Sold Out Commercial Marine Trade Expo Puts City on Conference and Trade Show Map

City’s First Marine Expo ‘Put Us On the Map’
By Charis Anderson

The Commercial Marine Expo, a major marine trade show, had a successful debut this week at State Pier, bringing thousands of people to the city and winning rave reviews from attendees.
“They thought New Bedford was perfectly suited to the show,” said Ted Hugger, the show director. “People kept saying this is where it ought to be. … You look out at any of the doors here and all you see is fishing boats.”
The exhibition, formerly named the Fish Expo Atlantic, relocated to New Bedford for the first time this year after being held in Providence for a number of years.
The show sold out its exhibit space — a first in the show’s history — and attracted between 2,500 and 3,000 attendees, an increase over past shows that Hugger attributed in part to the new location.
“Just being here in New Bedford and on the waterfront … it made it very easy for the people we needed to see to visit us,” he said.
Hugger praised the cooperation he had received from the city and all local organizations throughout the planning stages leading up to this week’s event and during the show itself.
“They made everything happen whenever we needed it,” he said. “It allowed us to present a show that was seamless to our exhibitors and to the attendees.”
According to Hugger, the show’s organizers received a number of positive comments from exhibitors about the friendliness and helpfulness of the city’s residents, whether it was pointing out how to get somewhere or giving someone a ride back to his hotel.
“That kind of stuff is really valuable, and that’s what makes exhibitors want to come back,” Hugger said.
Harbor Development Commission Executive Director Kristin Decas said this was the first time State Pier has hosted a broad convention-style event.
“If we didn’t do it right, we’re out forever,” she said. “We get it right, we have a future. … We received very, very positive feedback.”
Decas said Hugger had the foresight to see what State Pier could be and took a gamble on the city that it would be able to get it done.
“We took something and really turned it into a very nice setting for this event,” she said. “I think this particular (event) put us on the map.”
The new Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites, which opened late last month, served as the event’s host hotel, a partnership that worked well for both parties, according to Hugger and hotel owner Richard Lafrance.
“It was fabulous … a great event where you had the synergy between the Expo, the hotel, some of the area restaurants,” Lafrance said. He said the downtown hotel sold out during the event.
Mayor Scott W. Lang said the success of the Expo demonstrated that State Pier can be used as a convention or exhibition venue and that New Bedford can serve as an able host community.
“We really have a remarkable ability to expand and contract for the different events that we host,” Lang said.
June 12, 2010 12:00 AM
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