Even though it is the industry's preeminent trade show, inevitably those who are new to NPE - and some veterans - may not be aware of some of the simpler facts about the massive McCormick Place show.
Therefore, Plastics News presents the following list of basic questions, with the accompanying answers, that some may have about the event. For more information, see NPE's Web site at www.npe.org or the NPE section of Plastics News' site at www.plasticsnews.com.
Q: What is NPE?
A: Touted as the world's largest plastics and elastomers trade show, NPE is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington, which founded the first show in 1946. NPE is held every three years at McCormick Place in Chicago and is being held this year from June 23-27.
Q: Why is it in Chicago?
A: Because NPE is the industry's standard trade show, a lot of space is needed to house it. A lot of space is exactly what can be found at McCormick Place. With 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space, 112 meeting rooms and 50-foot ceilings, McCormick has the size to accommodate the show.
Q: Has NPE always been held in Chicago?
A: NPE has bounced around a number of cities including New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland. The first NPE was held in Chicago in 1946 and its first appearance at the old McCormick facility was in 1963. NPE put in its first appearance at the current facility in 1971 and this is the 12th show at the rebuilt McCormick Place.
Q: Why should I attend?
A: More than 2,000 exhibitors displaying the latest innovations in plastics and technology are expected to be there, representing a range of market segments. The show in 2000 set an NPE record with 2,014 exhibitors. Between 1985 and 2000, attendance increased at NPE by 60 percent, and more than 90,000 are expected this year.
Q: How do I register?
A: Registration, which costs $75, is available online at www.npe.org as well as on-site at McCormick Place. Those who pre-register by June 19 can do so for $50.
Q: Where can I stay?
A: Rooms can be booked online at www.npe.org. For more information, contact the NPE housing office at (703) 205-2975. Another site that can be used to find rooms (and the occasional discount) is www.worldexecutive.com/cityguides/chicago/index .html.
Q: How do I get there?
A: Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which manages McCormick Place, just opened a new two-way road used exclusively by the free express bus service between McCormick Place and hotels used by attendees. According to NPE, that will reduce travel time from the farthest hotel on Michigan Avenue to McCormick Place to less than 20 minutes, from 30-40 minutes.
Q: Where can I park?
A: As in any big city, parking spaces are like gold in Chicago. There are two main parking lots at McCormick: Lot A and Lot C. For events in the North and South buildings, Lot A, a six-level garage, is the primary lot. Lot C is an underground facility used primarily for the East Side Center and Arie Crown Theater. Covered walkways from Lot A lead directly into McCormick. Other parking options are the Hyatt Hotel Parking and the Soldier Field lot, at 18th Street and Lake Shore Drive.
Q: How do I find the companies I want to see?
A: You will need to have the booth number of the company you would like to see. That can be found by using Plastics News' online exhibitor locator at www.plas ticsnews.com, or by visiting NPE's Web site at www.npe.org, where an online show planner can be found. Also new this year will be the operation of about two dozen product locators in McCormick Place. The locators, a joint effort between Plastics News and NPE Web site developer Kircher Interactive, will allow visitors to search for an individual company or for all the exhibitors making a particular product. Based on that, users of the locators will be able to create a personalized show plan. The computer terminals will be in high-traffic areas, including registration locations and hall entrances.
Q: Will any conferences or seminars be offered?
A: Yes. Both SPI and the Society of Plastics Engineers of Brookfield, Conn., will present conference sessions on a number of topics including technical and strategic issues and professional training seminars. Some seminars at NPE are free, while others require a fee to attend. More information can be found at www.4spe.org/conferenceseminar .htm, www.npe.org and on the Plastics News Web site.