Chicago Convention Officials Plan Meeting With Trade Show Organizers

Hoping to address concerns that have caused at least two major conventions to leave the Windy City for other destinations in recent months, officials from Chicago's convention and tourism bureau have planned a roundtable discussion this week with 40 trade show organizers, Crain's Chicago Business reported last week.

Scheduled for Feb. 17, the discussion reportedly will focus on how Chicago's McCormick Place convention center plans to cut costs for convention planners, who have complained that the cost of doing business in Chicago is too high.

While tourism officials declined to name which trade shows will be represented at this week's meeting, they confirmed that officials from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), which operates McCormick Place, will be present. The main topic of discussion, they said, will be a legislative proposal announced last month by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, which will seek to restructure MPEA's debt so that it can become a public employer, allowing the authority to negotiate contracts with labor for trade shows in pursuit of cost savings that it can pass on to convention organizers.