AUSTIN-October is a busy time at the Austin Convention Center with two big technology gatherings coming to town. The city’s convention and visitors bureau says this month will still be busy despite the continuing travel fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Semicon Southwest, a tradeshow for the semiconductor industry, annually is the biggest event at the convention center. Last year, the 8,000 chip people and 722 exhibitors that attended had a $9-million economic impact on the city, according to Jaclyn Barajas, marketing director for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, tells show is sponsored by SEMI North America, an industry trade group based in San Jose, CA. The event runs Oct. 16-17.

This year could be different. The industry already is in one of its worst downturns, which usually reduces attendance. That could be compounded by the aftermath of the terrorists’ attacks. Barajas, however, says the bureau hasn’t heard of cutbacks by companies displaying their products at the show.

In a letter posted on the Semicon Southwest Web site, Bobby Greenberg, SEMI’s president, acknowledged the industry’s tough times. He said SEMI has arranged hotel discounts and extended the periods for reduced-cost registration for the convention and other programs.

ITEC is the other big October gathering that the center has booked. The annual trade show for information technology professionals runs Oct. 24-25. Tuesday, the ITEC official running the Austin event could not be reached.

These are the first big conventions to come to Austin since the attacks. The convention center was closed in September for renovations. Barajas says 90% of the meetings that had been scheduled for Austin hotels after the attacks have been rescheduled. Other groups are still deciding about rescheduling dates or canceling altogether, she says.

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