"Have you thought about taking your project to some other state from where you are?" Edwards asked.
"Oh yes, I've been looking at Utah. They are the real thought leader and the real place to be," the attendee replied.
"He didn't know I was from Utah when we started the conversation," Edwards explains, "but he certainly recognized Utah's leadership in the advanced composites industry and I think that is largely due to our continuous presence at the SAMPE conference."
Trade Show Strategy
As with SAMPE, every year EDCUtah focuses a portion of its proactive recruitment effort on key trade shows and conferences that take place in the U.S. "Our trade show strategy is a proactive effort working within the economic clusters identified by Governor Herbert," Edwards says. Indeed, six trade shows/conferences are of particular interest to EDCUtah's economic development efforts because of their alignment with Utah's economic clusters. They are:
- SAMPE (conference of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering) -- Aerospace cluster
- JEC -- Aerospace cluster
- BIO (conference of the Biotechnology Industry Organization) -- Life Sciences cluster
- AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems) -- Homeland Security cluster
- Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets -- Outdoor Products cluster
- Game Developers Conference –- IT cluster
Furthermore, three other conferences are also important to economic development even though they are not directly related to Utah's economic clusters. They are:
- CoreNet Global
- ICSC RECON (International Council of Shopping Centers Spring Convention)
With the exception of AUVSI and the Game Developers Conference, EDCUtah has been involved with each of the trade shows or conferences for many years. "In my experience, what pays off is consistent, long-term support. If you are going to use trade shows as a strategy, being there consistently year after year and trying to make a real contribution makes a difference. The industry takes notice of that," Edwards says.
The SAMPE conference is a good example of what Edwards means by consistent, long-term support. EDCUtah and the Governor's Office of Economic Development have hosted the Utah Pavilion at SAMPE for seven years and the pavilion, along with the participating Utah companies, always create a buzz and the conference.
"Utah has a rich history in the advanced composites industry, with many advanced composites companies and experienced workers developing cutting-edge technology here," says Edwards. "That is our calling card -- our depth of experience and technology."
Another important event in the advanced composites market is the JEC show. This is the largest event in the world in this industry, attracting more than 12,000 attendees, Edwards explains. "Utah has participated in this Paris-based show in a partnership with ATK, where we have had a Utah Composites Industry stand inside the USA Pavilion for the last six years. The contacts initiated at JEC and at SAMPE have proven to be invaluable as we seek to grow this important industry," he says.
The BIO convention is another important event on EDCUtah's tradeshow/convention calendar. BIO is the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry. Utah has participated in BIO for the last five years and will attend again this year, as EDCUtah and GOED travel to Boston later this month to promote Utah's vibrant life sciences industry.
EDCUtah will focus its efforts at BIO on helping Utah-based life sciences and biotech companies achieve their growth and expansion goals while recruiting other life sciences businesses to the state. Utah is a credible player in the life sciences industry with strong leadership in medical device manufacturing, personalized healthcare, natural products and three world-class research universities: Utah State University, University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
In August EDCUtah, GOED and a contingency of Utah organizations will participate in the annual convention of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI), which focuses on ground, air and maritime unmanned vehicle systems.
AUVSI hosts the largest gathering of government, business, technology and academic leaders in the unmanned systems community. Past participation in the convention has paid off for Utah by attracting a number of military-related unmanned systems programs to Dugway and Hill Air Force Base. While most of the interest in Utah has come from the Department of Defense, Utah is also attracting additional interest from commercial enterprises developing unmanned vehicle systems because the state has excellent flight corridors, controlled by either Hill Air Force Base or Dugway, that are free of commercial aviation.
Meanwhile, the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets bring together retailers, manufacturers, industry advocates and media to Utah every year for two of the largest tradeshows in the state. The two Markets not only have significant economic impact on Utah, but also provide excellent opportunities for EDCUtah's economic developers to recruit additional outdoor products companies to locate here.
Edwards says EDCUtah participates in the Summer and Winter Markets primarily by sponsoring events and through outreach to the significant number of outdoor companies that participate.
Game Developer Conference
In recent years, EDCUtah has been participating in the Game Developers Conference (GDC), held annually in San Francisco. The GDC is the world's largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event and attracts approximately 19,000 attendees. It is also the primary forum where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and others involved in the development of interactive games gather to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.
Utah has a strong and growing digital media sector, which is part of the state's IT Cluster. Hence, EDCUtah has targeted the GDC as part of its proactive recruitment effort.
CoreNet and IAMC
CoreNet and IAMC are two organizations that bring together corporate real estate executives, large national brokerage firms and national site selectors in charge of relocating and expanding businesses. IAMC is a small, member-focused association called the Industrial Asset Management Council. Its membership is derived from the manufacturing and industrial asset management industries and is comprised of an elite group of senior executives in corporate real estate.
CoreNet is a similar to IAMC, but a much larger organization of commercial real estate brokers, end users, site selectors and ED professionals. It serves leading multinational companies from the Fortune and Global 1000.
Edwards, who has been involved with IAMC since 2003, says the relationships developed at IAMC and CoreNet events have proven to be quite valuable and favorable for Utah. In fact, many corporate real estate executives and site consultants keep Utah top of mind because of EDCUtah’s sponsorship of IAMC events and participation in the CoreNet Summits.
ICSC RECON International is the tradeshow of the International Council of Shopping Centers. It focuses on the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries. While it does not align with one of Utah economic clusters, it is an important trade show for many of EDCUtah's investor cities, who want to recruit retail developments. Hence, it is important to EDCUtah. In partnership with GOED, EDCUtah hosted the Utah Pavilion and an evening reception at ICSC in May.
"Utah has become a stalwart at ICSC, and the Utah Retail Property Book is something people always look for at the show," says Edwards. "Also, attendees at ICSC are always impressed with what we are doing and how we have gotten all of the participating cities to work together."
The Utah Retail Property Book, which EDCUtah compiles, highlights properties within the participating Utah cities and counties and always produces a great response from developers, broker and retailers at the tradeshow -- many of which visit the Utah booth specifically to pick up a personal copy of the book.
Half of the Strategy
Exhibiting and prospecting at the various conventions and tradeshows is only half of EDCUtah's tradeshow strategy. EDCUtah Senior Vice President of Business Development Todd Brightwell points out that the trade shows and conventions help EDCUtah court targeted companies that fit within Utah's economic clusters where they convene. "In many instances that would be at the tradeshow or convention," he says, "but we also take advantage of our travel opportunities to leverage our expertise and call upon targeted businesses located near the tradeshows or conventions as well. For example, when we go to Baltimore for BIO, we will also visit companies and site selectors located on the East Coast. We have meetings set up in advance, which helps us leverage our finite resources in meaningful ways. It is a real focused effort."
EDCUtah's tradeshow strategy requires immense preparation and follow-up. "It takes a lot of time, energy and effort to track down the company that is in the right position to make a move and reach the decision makers at the company. Therein lies the real challenge," Brightwell explains. "The strategy works because we put in a lot of preparation on the front end along with consistent follow up on the back end."
Data and leads collected at the tradeshows are not only shared with other Utah participants but also entered into EDCUtah's database so that the intelligence gathered can be put to future use. It is an aggressive approach that makes the most out of EDCUtah's resources, he says.
"We are getting much better at being able to track the right types of companies within our clusters and gather information to refine our message and also deliver messages back to the state about what is necessary for the future development of Utah's economic clusters," says Brightwell. "Our tradeshow strategy is also helping us keep a full pipeline of economic development projects to work."