Accelerate Maine conference turnout lower than expected

Posted Oct. 02, 2010, at 4:59 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Several dozen business professionals attended the Accelerate Maine development and networking conference at the Hollywood Slots Hotel on Friday and Saturday.

About 40 people attended the keynote address Friday morning, and on Saturday morning about two dozen showed up for scheduled sessions on financial management. The event, months in the planning, was originally forecast to attract about 200 business leaders and managers.

Organizer Cintia Miranda of Pulse Marketing in Bangor said the lower than expected attendance reflected the need for the Bangor business community to adopt a more aggressive outlook.

“This was a novel idea for Bangor,” she said, taking a break from a session on recovering lost business revenues. “People in this area have to commit to professional development or we are going to lag behind. She said she will probably reorganize the project and try again next year.

The ambitious two-day program got whittled down at the last minute and several sessions were canceled due to low registration. Many of those who did attend on Saturday were employees of local sponsoring businesses, which included the Bangor Daily News.

The original schedule offered more than 30 break-out sessions on topics ranging from data management and corporate law to real estate and social marketing. Though many presenters were drawn from the local community, others came from a distance, Miranda said. The event was “purely educational,” she said, and a valuable opportunity for local businesspeople to network.

Asked why turnout was so low, Miranda said the event lost customers by taking up a weekday as well as a weekend day.

“If people were going to a conference in Boston, they would take both days,” she said, but in Bangor, it proved hard to get buy-in for both days. The cost of registration was $250.

Miranda acknowledged that another problem was the layout of the event. Though conference rooms were comfortable and easily accessible, the exhibition space for vendors and sponsors was located at the end of a long passageway and not convenient for browsing during breaks and meals.

Miranda said her agency lost a significant amount of money, but she adopted a philosophical tone.

“Of course, I am disappointed to have not reached my attendance mark, but all in all I am very happy with the conference,” she said.

If Accelerate Maine regroups for 2011, she said, it likely will feature a streamlined schedule in a different location.

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