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The International Manufacturing Technology Show, the city’s largest trade show at McCormick Place drawing tens of thousands of attendees, has been canceled amid the coronavirus health crisis.
The show, which was scheduled to take place at McCormick Place Sept. 14-19, had more than 129,000 people signed up to attend, and was expected to account for more than 99,300 hotel room nights, McCormick Place spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty said.
The nearly 100 events scheduled for McCormick Place that have now been scrapped were expected to generate more than $1.4 billion, including spending at hotels, restaurants, entertainment and transportation, McCafferty said.
The Association for Manufacturing Technology, a McLean, Virginia, trade group, owns and manages the show, which has been held every even-numbered year in Chicago since 1947. The event, known as IMTS, draws attendees from more than 100 countries to showcase industrial machinery and technology. In 2014, engineers built a car using a 3-D printer.
Organizers announced Monday they pulled the plug because ofuncertainty surrounding when conventions can resume in Illinois under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase reopening plan. Currently, the state is in the beginning of phase three, but large gatherings of more than 50 people wouldn’t be able to resume until phase five.
In order to reach that phase, a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, needs to be available or there needs to be a highly effective treatment in place.
Peter Eelman, vice president of exhibitions and chief experience officer for the association, said it was unlikely that would happen before the show was slated to begin in September. Also, the size of the event made it particularly challenging, he said.
“Without any trades show having started yet, we are a pretty big lift,” Eelman said in an interview.
The association plans to return in September 2022. “We are going to continue to support Chicago as it brings trade shows back to the city,” Eelman said.
Eelman said the show’s organizers are working to create two digital programs, called IMTS Network and IMTS Spark, to connect exhibitors and the manufacturing community. IMTS Spark will provide educational and networking opportunities, he said.
Visitors who registered for the event also have the options to receive a refund or transfer their registration fee to a tax-deductible donation to Miles For Manufacturing, a 5k run raising funds for programs that prepare students for careers in manufacturing technology.
More than 96 events scheduled for McCormick Place, drawing more than 844,000 attendees and occupying some 850,000 hotel room nights, have canceled since March due to health concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic, according to McCafferty.
McCormick Place had its first event cancellation related to the COVID-19 pandemic March 2 after Rosemont-based International Housewares Association called off their trade-only event, The Inspired Home Show, which was scheduled for mid-March.
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