Chicago vs. Orlando the contest for the NPE trade show has grabbed the attention of top government officials.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., met in Daley's office Oct. 28. Chicago's McCormick Place is the longtime home of NPE.
Carteaux and Gene Sanders, SPI senior vice president of trade shows and conferences, are handling negotiations with both cities. Carteaux said the goal is to make a decision by the end of the year. Members of SPI's 12-person NPE executive committee will have the final vote.
Chicago and Orlando are competing to be the home of the 2012 and 2015 shows, and both cities sponsored social events at SPI's Oct. 14-16 national board meeting in Arlington, Va.
Daley knows the economic importance of NPE, Carteaux said. [Daley] called and invited me to meet with him. I would say that he's taking it seriously if he went to that trouble, he said.
But Daley is not the only politician to contact SPI. Carteaux also met with Richard T. Crotty, mayor of Orange County, Fla., in mid-October, and he has taken phone calls from Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois and Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida.
Carteaux declined to give details about any of the conversations, or about the cities' proposals.
Wherever it goes, NPE will have an important economic impact, thanks to showgoers and exhibitors spending money on lodging, entertainment and transportation. The five-day NPE2009 show in June generated $95.3 million in direct spending, according to the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. The 2006 NPE, held in healthier economic times, generated $154.7 million.
Both cities submitted bids months ago, after SPI requested proposals, according to Carteaux.
McCormick Place has been home to NPE since 1971, but SPI, which organizes the show, is looking at alternatives this year because of complaints by exhibitors about high costs and labor union rules. Such complaints happen after every NPE, but the tough economy made it harder to take this year, they said.
Chicago has at least one big advantage: It is centrally located in the heart of the U.S. plastics industry, with a large number of attendees who can drive to the show. Florida has a smaller plastics sector, but a booming tourist economy in Orlando, thanks to attractions like Disney World and it is a right-to-work state.
Tourism officials from both cities are tight-lipped. We put a bid in for it, said Brian Martin, spokesman for the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Now we're waiting for SPI to make their decision. We won't discuss what our proposal is.
Meghan Risch, public relations director for Chicago's Convention and Tourism Bureau, said: We're not going to comment any further while negotiations are still going on.
Making a decision
Carteaux and Sanders are handling the nitty-gritty details. But the final decision will come through a vote of the NPE executive committee, made up of 12 executives from exhibiting firms.
After every NPE, committee members look at feedback from exhibitors and attendees including past attendees that skipped the latest show and analyze statistics in an effort to improve the trade show. But the question of whether to actually move the show away from Chicago is unprecedented, at least in recent history, according to two members of the NPE2009 executive committee, John Effmann and Jim Murphy.
A lot of [the feedback this year] pointed to issues with Chicago, Effmann said. The topic has generated strong feelings.
Murphy called the debate the most significant review of the venue in the last 30 years. He also is chairman of the NPE2009 operations committee, which does the detailed analysis of all the survey information and data.
Murphy said the two main customers of a trade show are exhibitors and attendees. You need satisfaction on both parts to have a successful show, he said.
Effmann is vice chair of the NPE2009 executive committee. For the next NPE, in 2012, Effmann will serve as executive committee chairman and Murphy will be vice chairman.
They both stressed that no decision has been made on where to hold NPE three years from now. We think we understand what's required to have a successful show, and you have to go out and do your due diligence, Murphy said.
The NPE executive committee will take into account reports from SPI leaders Carteaux and Sanders. They are very a professional staff doing a very professional job, Effmann said.
At the recent SPI national board meeting in Arlington, Orlando sponsored a dinner with entertainment and Chicago sponsored a reception and breakfast. But neither city made an official presentation at the Arlington event, Effmann and Murphy said.
SPI's executive board authorized the NPE executive board to make the final decision, in consultation with SPI management.
Back in August, people from all six NPE-related committees plus SPI staffers and officials from key NPE show contractors held the wrap-up meeting for NPE2009 in Orlando, where they toured the Orange County Convention Center. Effmann said Orlando officials led the tour but did not have an extensive meeting with the group.
Meanwhile, the issue of where to hold NPE has become a big topic of discussion, especially with companies that spend the money to exhibit there.
Tim Hanrahan wrote a column for Plastics News complaining that McCormick Place charged his company, Erema North America Inc., $345 to deliver four cases of Pepsi to Erema's NPE booth.
This is a major trade show. It's big news for the plastics industry, Hanrahan said in an Oct. 29 telephone interview. He said he does not have enough information to form an opinion about Orlando, but welcomes the debate.
It's good to take a real fresh look at this. It's win-win. Even if they don't move, they probably have the group in Chicago really seriously looking at their costs.
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