As Group Event Director for the International Powder and Bulk Solids Conference & Exhibition (Powder Show), the largest biennial event in the Western Hemisphere for dry processing and bulk solids handling, I was amazed at the significant changes witnessed during our time at the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL in April.
Live events were so severely impacted by the pandemic that the experience of not just a forecast adjustment in behaviors since 2021, but metrics supported positive pivots on experiential delivery back to the attendees, supplier/exhibitors, conference delegates, association partners, etc. in 2023 was exceptional.
The Powder Show hosted more than 4,000 attendees, which doubled the 2021 number and was symbolic of a massive resurgence in event interest. More than 320 commercial partners took full advantage of the busy environment. They provided sound advice and equipment choices to an attendee base consisting of high-level prospects from companies with a strong and urgent need to source innovative solutions for their current or near-term projects.
It is always our intention to act as a communication bridge between attendees and suppliers and we certainly do place emphasis on legacy topics. However new opportunities to grow do surface. The new Women in Processing initiative saw participants interested in a more considered approach to inclusion for all, intently learning from a keynote panel of female processing thought leaders who are paving the way. To say that this was a program warmly received would be an understatement as the trajectory forward is one rich with opportunity and clear goals.
The conference program included a fundamentals program in addition to the highly valued advanced technical education. The new Ask the Experts live feature invited attendees to interface with icons in dry processing for consultation on active or upcoming projects. The Granular Guides Mentorship Program was another live feature that invited industry mentors to connect with newer industry professionals interested in gathering support for their vocational track through experience sharing and networking. The Tech Theater and Center Stage delivered an expanded three-day program loaded with inspirational speakers that then capped off the event with an NFPA panel presented by four of the chairs of the NFPA Technical Committee. This panel dispelled some of the rumors surrounding the NFPA standard and explained why consolidating the combustible standards is necessary.
Witnessing this event deliver a significant increase in both expo and conference attendance validated my prediction that Informa Markets was able to level and grow from the previous challenges experienced during the period of social distancing and restrictions. Given that the dry processing and bulk solids handling sector accounts for 70% of the manufacturing lifecycle of every product on earth, education and connection are an essential part of the industry. The Powder Show has always stood as a networking hub for trade professionals and will continue to do so as the growth and emerging markets mature.
Trending educational topics will continue to be the focus in the next line-up of in-person activities slated for the next year. Regional growth in areas of interest has provided ample fuel to expand the processing footprint in the IME South event (including Powder Show South), June 4-6, 2024, in Charlotte, NC. Powder Show is where technology and innovation will meet to set the course for the future of bulk processing in the south, where so much is rapidly advancing in food, pharma, metals, automotive, aerospace, and personal care industries.
Additionally, major adjustments in petrochemical and chemical production have delivered options for our loyal audience in the Southwest as the all-new Powder Show Conference will take place in Houston, September 10-12, 2024. Launching the Houston event in the coming year has us aiming to provide continued annual education and networking in an additional southern region market over two days of technical meetings and solid networking for industry partners in that region.
For the readers of our long-standing and leading media brand, Powder & Bulk Solids, and for the attendees and partners at our series of live dry processing events, there is so much in store as we build upon the legacy foundation of our brands. It is imperative that we hear feedback from you regularly. Know that we look forward to it and genuinely appreciate your loyalty and support.