An "Intimate" Venue in a Timid City? Hardly.

Chicago's pro-business environment, central location, economic strength of the region, the commitment of its meetings and convention industry, and the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau's innovative attendance-building and destination marketing programs have helped the city remain  the nation's premier convention destination. If you haven't been to Chicago in the last 5 years, you really haven't been to Chicago. It's a city that continues to change.

A recent Economist article agrees, referring to Chicago as "…a city buzzing with life, humming with prosperity, sparkling with new buildings, new sculptures, new parks, and generally exuding vitality."

The proof is evident in Chicago's successful show experiences. Nearly every major trade show hosted in Chicago since May 2005 experienced record-breaking attendance and/or exhibit sales, a terrific accomplishment in light of a decrease in business travel due to high fuel prices and consolidation within the industry.

Thirty-three million domestic and overseas visitors came to Chicago in 2005 and that number will continue to increase as the city continues to reinvent itself. Business travelers represented 42 percent of this number.

Chicago's regional audience is especially strong. Within a 300-mile radius of Chicago, a one-day drive, lies one of the most densely populated areas of the country—16 percent of the U.S. population.

A number of shows that posted historical attendance and exhibitor sales have also recommitted to Chicago for future years, including: American Library Association, Clinical Chemistry, Digestive Disease Week, International Home and Housewares Show, National Restaurant Association's (NRA) Annual Restaurant,Hotel-Motel Show and the Radiological Society of North America(RSNA).

The 2006 Restaurant Show attracted more than 73,500 attendees and exhibitors from all 50 states and 110 countries, and generated more than $106 million in direct expenditures for the City of Chicago.

Per a new five-year agreement, NRA's show will remain at Chicago's McCormick Place through 2011.

Already the Western Hemisphere's largest foodservice and hospitality event, the show has been in Chicago for 56 consecutive years.

"Chicago is a world-class destination which provides outstanding business facilities and services coupled with the great culinary, cultural and entertainment attractions that our exhibitors and attendees expect," said Steven C. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, "No other city's venue can, at this time, better satisfy the needs of the growing restaurant industry like McCormick Place."

McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the United States, continues to offer more services and flexibility to the millions of customers it welcomes annually.

Some changes are more visible than others, but all are being done with the purpose of meeting customer demands. The new West Building will open ahead of schedule in August 2007.

Technology continues to be a focus. McCormick Place is the only convention center in the country with a connection to Internet2, allowing customers to access a variety of activities, including high-definition quality video broadcasting opportunities to multiple sites across the world. Its expanded Wi-Fi coverage can now manage more than 3,000 concurrent users at any given time – the most of any convention center in the country. You just can't beat Chicago's central location for connecting with the rest of the world.

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