Recharge at the B to B

When planning for this year’s Business to Business Trade Show, the staff at the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council was keenly aware of just how different the economic environment was compared to last year. We braced for the worst, wondering how exhibit space would sell, and how we would get people’s attention this year.

Something rather remarkable happened. We started asking companies how business was faring, and were surprised to hear that for many companies – though surely not for all and in all sectors – business was steady. Several companies even said business was brisk.

Show registration forms came in. Admittedly, it took longer to sell space this year versus last year. However, as of press time, we have all but a handful of booths left, and we are confident we will sell out once again.

It soon dawned on us that we wanted to focus on what companies ought to be doing now, during this economic slow-down, to prepare for an inevitable recovery. We thought it made sense to encourage companies to take a top-to-bottom look at their organizations, their mission, their efficiencies (or inefficiencies), and their blueprints (or lack of them) for strategic planning, research and development, regardless of industry. What will they – and what will we – do when things start to turn around? Will we make the same mistakes? Can we become better and stronger? What if the seeds of success are sown now – today?

That’s why we chose this year’s theme, “Recharge Your Business.”

We were also curious about what companies did during the Great Depression. In our promotional brochure, we featured the fascinating story of DuPont and its invention of neoprene. In 1930, in the midst of the Depression, DuPont capitalized on low material costs and available talent, and increased R and D spending to commercially develop neoprene, a synthetic rubber that revolutionized deep sea diving and the automotive industry. Neoprene was introduced commercially in 1937, and became one of the biggest inventions of the century. DuPont followed up with nylon soon after.

You or I may not be able to replicate quite the same success as DuPont. However, lessons can be learned. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps this economic downturn can ignite a spark of genius brought on by necessity and opportunity.

To play off the theme of “recharging,” we wanted to focus attention on a rechargeable automobile. Specifically, we’re offering attendees a chance to win a 2010 Toyota Prius courtesy of Emerson Toyota. (See contest details at

www.economicgrowth.org.)

In this insert, some of our exhibitors offer tips and trends on how to survive and prosper in this difficult economy. We’re also offering a bit of stress relief at the show by transforming the Shipyard Lounge into what we’re calling our “Rejuvenation Station,” offering massages, aroma therapy, Wii game trials courtesy of Best Buy, and energy drinks courtesy of Federal Distributors. Also in the Shipyard Lounge, by appointment only, award-winning author and motivational speaker Lee Ann Szelog will offer brief “Attitude Adjustments” for a quick dose of inspiration.

As is tradition, the show will start with a Chamber Breakfast, once again at the Bates College Commons, which last year broke a Chamber attendance record. This year’s featured speaker is Don MacAdam, the new head coach of the Lewiston MAINEiacs hockey team. After the show, we’ll end the day with a giant Chamber After Hours at the Colisee, featuring tasty treats from The Great American Grill, The Bread Shack, Wei Li, and Margaritas.

This is our 14th annual show, and we’re proud that after all these years, the show remains the largest one-day business show in the state, with nearly 200 exhibitors and 2,500 attendees expected to attend.

I can’t think of a better way to invest a few hours than to attend our show, compare notes and ideas with colleagues, see how other companies are innovating, and take advantage of what is perhaps the oldest business tactic in history: networking.

Enjoy the show, and remember the lessons from DuPont.

Lucien B. Gosselin, President

Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council


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