The NPE2012 plastics exposition, which took place April 1-5 in Orlando, Florida, substantially exceeded NPE2009 in size, and it attracted more participants from outside the United States than any other NPE in history, announces SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, which produces the triennial event.

Taking place in a venue that marked a dramatic shift after four decades in Chicago, NPE2012 attracted 1,933 exhibitors, more than in each of the three previous NPEs. The total exhibit space occupied at NPE2012 was 939,972 square feet or 23 percent greater than in 2009, which was adversely affected by the Great Recession. There was a 26 percent increase in attendance, as 55,359 plastics professionals participated in NPE2012. These visitors represented 19,283 unique companies, as against 18,600 at NPE2009.

Of total attendance in 2012, 26 percent came from outside the United States, a substantial increase compared with any previous NPE. Fully one-third of these international visitors came from Latin America, fulfilling SPI’s prediction that the new venue would attract more visitors from that region than ever before.

Also setting a new record for international participation was the number of exhibiting companies from outside the United States-approximately 750, or 40 percent of the total. China sent the most international exhibitors to NPE2012 by far-a little over 300, or 16 percent of all exhibitors. Another 8 percent came from the rest of Asia and the Mideast, and 10 percent came from Europe. Canada sent 72 exhibitors-the second-largest country total after China. The 28 exhibitors from Mexico and South America represented the largest contingent ever from Latin America.

Positive as they are, these statistics do not fully convey the degree of success achieved by NPE2012, according to William R. (Bill) Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI. “There was far more plastics processing equipment operating on the exhibit floor than in 2009, much greater attendance at the co-located conferences, and a larger and more exciting program of special events,” Carteaux says. “In addition, both exhibitors and visitors gave SPI overwhelmingly positive feedback on the new venue in Orlando, supporting our decision to schedule both the 2012 and 2015 NPEs there.”   Besides the attractions of the new venue and the stimulus of an improved economy, another important contributor to the increased participation in NPE2012 was innovation by SPI designed to provide participants with more return on their trade show investment, notes Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior vice president of trade shows and conferences.

 “While the NPE trade show was the core event and scored a great success, the entire NPE2012 experience included a broad array of other events and offerings, not least of which was an educational program whose scope and diversity made NPE2012 unique among the world’s plastics expositions,” Sanders says. “A completely new feature at NPE2012 was our pre-show Super Sunday, which included social and networking events, brand owner presentations, and an evening gala whose highlights were a keynote address by Jon Huntsman, Jr. and the Plastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony.”

In 2015, NPE will again take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Scheduled for March 22-26, NPE2015 will conclude ten days prior to Easter and will not overlap the traditional Spring Break period.

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