The organizer of NPE2021 is optimistic that the largest plastics event in North America will take as scheduled in May, even as the show says it would face major challenges in shifting the date if it can't proceed as planned.
Tony Radoszewski, CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, struck a positive tone in a Sept. 24 interview, pointing to actions the venue has taken to keep the show safe and expectations that the coronavirus will be manageable.
He also acknowledged it would be difficult to find another location or postpone the huge event until later next year, if it's not possible to hold it on schedule May 17-21 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
"The show is going on," he said. "We're in an optimistic position where we believe the COVID virus will have diminished significantly."
Radoszewski said the OCCC recently received accreditation for its disinfection procedures from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, which is part of the International Sanitary Supply Association. The OCCC said in a news release that the GBAC accreditation is the "gold standard" of venue safety and that it's one of the largest exhibition centers in the United States to receive it.
NPE, which takes place every three years, is seen as a major economic driver for the industry. NPE2018 had more than 56,000 attendees over five days, with 2,100 exhibiting companies occupying 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space.
"We're going forward," Radoszewski said. "The only thing that would stop us was if a third-party organization — that could be the state of Florida, the city of Orlando, the convention center or the federal government — would say, 'You can't have these meetings.' … That's going to be the deciding factor for us."
He said rescheduling or finding another venue would be difficult.
There are only two venues in the United States that could realistically host the event, Orlando and Chicago's McCormick Place. The convention center in Las Vegas could theoretically host it, but that venue has never expressed interest, he said.
The time required for the setup and takedown of large plastics machinery limits options, he said.
"Because of the size of our show, and the amount of time we take to set up, have the show and close it down, the ability for other time slots is nonexistent," he said. "So we don't have any luxury of moving to September of 2021 or some part in 2022, which really wouldn't make a lot of sense because then you have the K show [the German event that's the world's most prominent plastics show] in 2022."