Watch CBS News

Return Of Trade Shows To McCormick Place Is Good News For Hotels, Workers, And The Chicago Economy

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Jobs, jobs, jobs - the return of trade shows and even the Auto Show at McCormick Place is a welcome sign for laid off workers.

CBS 2's Marie Saavedra got the inside scoop Tuesday on a show making a return even before the auto show.

"So we're really excited about being able to help reopen Chicago by having a show there," said Tim Andrews, chief executive officer of the Advertising Specialty Institute.

Andrews held his company's convention inside McCormick Place for 20 years straight. And after sitting 2020 out due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are ready to be one of the first trade shows back in these halls.

"We're really just trying to do the things we've all been trying to do over the course of the last year," he said.

Andrews said the final decision to have their three-day event was made just one month ago after carefully watching our COVID metrics. The show will still be about 40 percent smaller than usual, with masking, temperature checks, and plenty of room to spread out.

"The smaller footprint of the number of attendees and the smaller footprint of the trade show works out really well in the additional spacing you have to do for social distancing purposes," Andrews said.

What makes their trade show different from the Auto Show is that it signals a return for the true business traveler. Andrews said vendors, buyers, and owners are showing they are ready to get back out in the world by booking their flights and Chicago hotels.

"I think the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter and brighter by the day," said Michael Jacobson, of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.

Jacobson said this is a giant step forward. He said several downtown hotels either downsized or closed for a time due to a lack of demand, which led to a lot of the industry laid off.

"Until McCormick Place reopened, they were not in a position to reopen, and unfortunately that means thousands of hotels workers remaining out of work," Jacobson said. "But after today's announcement it looks like that's coming to an end; that we'll be able to rehire these folks very quickly."

Getting people back to work is just one of a dozen ripple effects, all from one national company ready to meet in person again - confident they can do it safely in Chicago.

"We've got plans in place across the board to do this we think very safely, very appropriately, and have people feel great when they leave as well," Andrews said. "We want people excited and ready for the second half of the year when they walk out of McCormick Place in July."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.