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Gov. Patrick’s Keynote Address Will Focus on the State’s Budget Challenges
Gov. Deval Patrick

Gov. Deval Patrick

Organizers of the annual Market Trade Show are always looking for a special drawing card to bring attention — and crowds — to the spring event. This year, they’ve found an ace in the presence of Gov. Deval Patrick.

He is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the breakfast portion of the May 13 show, and expected to touch on most matters involving the budget — from possible tax increases, including a controversial sales-tax hike recently approved by the House, to where cuts may come as the Commonwealth attempts to close a $400 million budget gap.

He won’t have time to respond to questions, but if all goes according to plan, Patrick be walking the show floor when it opens at 9 a.m.

Show organizers anticipate the governor to draw a significant crowd and give the show some momentum. “We think the governor will create quiet a buzz and get people to arrive early,” said Russell Denver, president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, which sponsors the annual trade show.

Denver is optimistic that year’s Market Show, which is open to the public with the price of admission being a business card, will draw between 3,000 to 4,000 attendees throughout the day. It’s worth noting however, that the keynote breakfast is $20, limited to 600 people, and requires advanced registration.

Visitors of the show can look forward to a full day of networking, free seminars, food, and possibly even a haircut.

Show Time

“More than last year” was Denver’s enthusiastic response when asked how many booths will be at trade show this year. While the show featured 155 companies in 2008, this year, he expects 165 companies and 190 booths.

With booth spaces going for between $600 and $950, the event remains “a low-cost way for companies to get the word out,” said Denver, and a time (a severe economic downturn) when businesses should be looking for ways to gain exposure.

“We’re awfully close to being sold out,” Denver said. “We might have seven or eight booths left, but that’s it, really.”

Every year the show turns over about a third of the booths, so while visitors can expect many of the same businesses as last year, there will be plenty of new ones, too, he explained. The types of business run the gamut. “You name it, we have it,” he said. “We have printers, hotels, security-alarm companies, an ambulance company, financial companies, colleges, environmental companies, and over-55 living facilities, and the list goes on.”

Now in its 21st year, the show seems to have settled on a venue that works, with few changes from last year. Yet even with a similar format, it’s never the same show twice, said Denver.

“It’s never stale … every year the exhibitors compete to be more creative than the last,” he said, citing, as one example, the staffing company United Personnel, which over the years has featured a surfing theme, a ’50s look and feel, and even karaoke.

This year Whalley Computer Associates is expanding the tech footprint of the event with a ‘technology corridor’ featuring several vendors, including Cisco Systems, Zix Networks, and Epson America, to present a comprehensive array of solutions.

Networking opportunities abound, said Denver. “Where else can you find 165 different businesses all in one place?”

Plenty to Learn

Throughout the day, the show will feature nine business seminars presented in the MassMutual meeting rooms. Attendees do not need a separate pass to attend the seminars, but since each room holds only 50 people, arriving early guarantees a spot. The schedule, which is still unfolding, looks like this:

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