Visit to Merchandise Mart

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We just got back from a quick trip to Merchandise Mart in Chicago that’s worth sharing.

About a dozen CVB staff and members were in Chicago this week for a conference of society executives.  These are people who help decide where the Association of Such and Such and the Professional XYZ Organization will have their annual meetings.  Some 6,000 people were in town for this conference our CVB was working the crowd to let them know that there’s hope for a new convention center in Cleveland.  That news was met with warm responses from groups who have always wanted to have meetings in Cleveland but haven’t because the facilities aren’t adequate, or groups that have had meetings in Cleveland in the past and would like to come back when there is a space that can accommodate their growing conference.

With a delegation of CVBers already in Chicago, we took the opportunity to bring Cleveland media to the Merchandise Mart and some other facilities in Chicago to show them what might be in store for Cleveland.  Plain Dealer, WKYC, WTAM, WOIO, WEWS, WCPN, and FOX 8 all made the trip.

It was impressive to see the permanent showrooms and display areas.  We’re not talking about booths and folding tables.  The showrooms were built-out and changed frequently to highlight new products. 

The purpose of the trip was to see what is envisioned for Cleveland.  We visited three locations in Chicago and were told that the Cleveland Medical Mart would be a hybrid of: 1.) permanent showrooms, like at the Merchandise Mart; 2.) trade show space, like at Festival Hall the Navy Pier; and 3.) high tech conference center facilities at the University of Chicago.

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1.) Media tour of the Merchandise Mart.  More than a 100 of the current exhibitors sell to the medical field and many have expressed interest in having a presence in the Cleveland Medical Mart.

2.) We walked the perimeter of only two floors of the Mart–each floor is about a 1/4 mi.  The showrooms are beautiful.  Each one is built out.  We were in a section of office furniture and the showrooms looked like offices, conference rooms, board rooms, work stations and waiting areas.

3.) The outside of the Merchandise Mart.  It has a plaza in front to accomodate the buses and cabs that are constantly bringing visitors to the Mart.

4.) University of Chicago Graduate School of Business conference facilities–something like this would incorporated into the Cleveland project.

Amanda Marko
Greater Cleveland Partnership

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