Another Trade Show Bolts Chicago

By Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Nov 18, 2009  |  Updated 3:48 PM CDT
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A shot of McCormick center.

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Task Force Aims to Make Chicago More Attractive

On the heels of losing a second major convention to another city, leaders from labor unions, the hospitality industry and McPier say they'll work together to make Chicago less expensive.
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Was it something we said?

More and more conventions are ditching Chicago as a destination for their big to dos, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The plastics industry is the latest group to ditch it's triennial McCormick Place digs and head to warmer climes.

But it's not the weather that has the conventioneers fleeing en masse.

It's the prices. The Chicago unions that facilitate services like electricity and the like charge more than other cities.

The plastics people say they can save $20 million by moving their show to Orlando.

Similarly, the Health Care Information and Management Systems Society announce last week that it was taking it show on the road -- to Vegas.

One exhibitor from the Health Care group said its electrical-services bill jumped from $4,000 when they held their convention in Orlando to $40,000 in Chicago for the same booth.

Mayor Daley railed against the other cities that are competing against Chicago.

"In Las Vegas they're giving everything away. Many of them don't have Labor contracts. We can't compete with that. " Daley said after the Health Care group announced it was leaving.

The plastics group just finished up their most recent convention at McCormick in June. This year they experienced a 28 percent drop in attendance.

According to the Chicago Tribune their show was expected to be the 9th largest of the year for McCormick.  It generated an estimated $95.3 million for Chicago's economy, a figure that is down $154.7 million for the 2006 show.

In response to the fleeing of conventioneers McPier, the group that operates McCormick Center and Navy Pier decided to lay off 20 percent of its staff, or about 100 jobs.

If the trend continues Chicago and McCormick Place should start buttering up these gems with all sorts of goodies:

The National Restaurant Association, Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. 

The National Automatic Merchandising Association show.

America's Beauty Show & America's Expo for Skin Care & Spa Show

The Chicago Auto Show.

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