2015 WMBExpo Show Guide
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
MassMutual Center, Springfield
The big day is almost here.
And by big, Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest, means big. That’s the easiest and perhaps the best way to describe the fifth edition of the Western Mass. Business Expo, produced by BusinessWest and HCN.
It will be big in terms of size and scope — more than 2,500 attendees are expected, and there will be more than 125 businesses exhibiting — and also in its impact when it comes to showcasing the region’s business community and providing the invaluable insight needed to thrive in an increasingly competitive global economy.
And, as always, it will be very big with regard to creating networking opportunities.
“We like to say this show is all about creating connections,” said Campiti. “And connections come in many forms. People can connect with other business owners, they can connect with local and state agencies that provide needed assistance, and they can connect with concepts about how to become better at what they do.”
The show, which will kick off with the Springfield Regional Chamber’s November breakfast, featuring keynoter Dan Kenary, CEO and co-founder of Harpoon Brewery, will feature more than eight hours of programs that will be informative, educational, and inspirational, and will bring together popular elements from Expos past and introduce some new ones.
In that first category, will be informative seminars, more than dozen of them, in tracks ranging from sales and marketing to ‘hottest trends’; a popular retail corridor; a pitch contest staged by Valley Venture Mentors; and the event-capping Expo Social, one of the region’s best networking events.
In that latter category will be a multi-faceted focus on the region’s precision manufacturing sector and the workforce challenges facing it. That focus includes robotics and machine tooling demonstrations; exhibits created by area vocational students on the various tools or their trade and ongoing efforts to forge partnerships with area manufacturers; and a luncheon program featuring Alison Lands, senior manager in Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations practice.
She served as a co-author and editor of the New England Council and Deloitte’s recently published report, Advanced to Advantageous: The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution, and her talk will be focused on that document.
This year’s pitch contest will have a new and intriguing twist. This year’s event, which represents a partnership between VVM, the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., the Small Business Administration, and entrepreneur sponsor Meyers Brothers Kalicka, will feature the debut of the InnovateHER pitch competition.
The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at unearthing products and services that impact and empower women and families through local business competitions. The winner of the Nov. 4 VVM Pitch Contest will advance to the next round of the national InnovateHER competition, with a chance to compete for $70,000 in prize money.
The five contestants at the VVM competition, who will have booths at what’s known as Startup Row and thus can be visited throughout the day, and will stage a preview of their pitches on the Show Floor Theater from 1 to 1:30 p.m., are:
• AuthenFOOD, which enables customers to order food online and reviews local chefs and bakers;
• Bhlue Publishing, LLC, which provides career guidance for young people that focuses on success without a four-year degree;
• Do+Make Business District, an online community and school for what it calls “solopreneurs escaping the 9-5”;
• Hot Oven Cookies, which promises to “deliver comfort in a cookie”; and
• Wonder Crew, a toy company that “offers boys a more expansive play experience, one where they can be strong and emotionally connected.”
Expo attendees will have the opportunity to choose which of those five they think will prevail in the competition. Those who guess correctly will win a beverage for the social.
The region’s healthcare sector will be prominently displayed at the Expo, with a designated corridor. It will be populated by Holyoke Medical Center, HealthSouth, MedExpress Urgent Care, Porchlight VNA/Home Care (which willk be offering flu shots), Ex Physical Therapy, and many other area companies.
A returning feature will be the Retail Corridor, which made a popular debut in 2014. It will feature a host of area companies featuring holiday gift items in a range of categories, from therapeutic massage to chocolate; cosmetics to jewelry; fruit baskets to Springfield Falcons tickets.
Meanwhile, new this year is the Business Support Center, which, as that name would suggest, features a number of exhibiting economic-development-related agencies that exist to support business owners and managers.
Participating agencies include the Economic Development Counsel of Western Mass., the Mass. Office of Business Development, the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College, the Mass. Export Center, the Holyoke Innovation District, and the Mass. Small Business Development Center, among many others.
The Expo will again be presented by Comcast Business, which has been the show’s lead sponsor since HCN and BusinessWest began producing it in 2011. Director-level sponsors are Health New England, Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, MGM Springfield, and Wild Apple Design Group. The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst is the education sponsor, 94.7 WMAS is the media sponsor, Peerless Precision, Smith & Wesson, the NTMA, and the Larry A. Maier Memorial Educational Fund are the Robotics and Manufacturing sponsors, and Meyers Brothers Kalicka is Entrepreneur sponsor.