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MDECD takes helm of Mississippi presence at manufacturing event

State companies still have time to make Chicago show

A few Mississippi companies still have an opportunity to tout their wares at the 51st annual National Plant Engineering MRO & Management Show at McCormick Place in Chicago during National Manufacturing Week, said Ken Johnston, manager of existing business and industry division of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development.

“This show is the combination of four trade shows into one biggie,” said Johnston.

For the past several years, Entergy has spearheaded efforts, with assistance from Teamwork Mississippi and MDECD, to showcase Mississippi industries. Last year, the state took a more active role in the program by advertising in the show directory and assisting in recruiting companies, he said.

“This year, Entergy wanted to cut back their presence and time,” Johnston said. “We thought it was a good time for the state to step to the plate.”

Because placement of trade show space is determined by the length of time as an exhibitor at the trade show and the amount of space previously rented, MDECD was able to book two 24X24-foot islands with “an excellent location,” and has subdivided them into eight 12X12-foot sections.

Four companies have already made commitments to the space — Entergy of Mississippi, Heatcraft of Grenada, a first-time exhibitor, Air Kontrol of Batesville and Great American Wirebound Box in McComb.

Boyd Carter, president and CEO of Great American Wirebound Box in McComb, said the company has been represented at the Chicago trade show for several years.

“It’s a great opportunity to get the word out to industries and to show products we manufacture here in Mississippi,” Carter said. “For our company, it gives us an opportunity to reach new markets and find new customers.”

Space cost for each of the four corner booths is $4,401 for a four day-run of the trade show. The deadline for signing up is Feb. 10. MDECD is providing some of the costs, such as carpeting for the booths “to keep uniformity of carpet color,” Johnston said. “Some advertising will be provided.”

Advertising through direct mail, supporting associations, a trade show directory and the Internet provide additional marketing opportunities. The Web site for National Manufacturing Week, www.manufacturingweek.com, has a homepage devoted to promotional materials that receives a million hits a year.

“We saw it as a way we could help Mississippi companies gain national exposure,” Johnston said. “Even though someone might look at a $4,000 figure plus additional expenses and think it’s mighty expensive, there are a lot of national companies that go through this trade show, such as 3M Co., Ingersoll Rand, Datastream Systems, and WD-40. It’s a good show to go to if people have an idea of expanding their market.”

Blair Jernigan, who recently left Entergy as senior project manager in economic and community development to start his own company, said trade shows provide opportunities you can’t put a price tag on.

“How much does it cost to put a sales representative in the field to call on customers as opposed to participating in trade shows that garner three to four times more leads at about a third of the cost?” said Jernigan. “Trade shows are a more cost-effective way to market on a results-oriented basis.”

About 25,000 industry professionals, such as corporate and general managers, plant and facilities managers, traffic, material handling managers, warehousing, distribution and logistics managers, attend the annual trade show. About 98% of them have purchasing authority for companies with average revenue of $1.4 billion. More than half of those attending will not visit another trade show this year.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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