New Orleans Ernest N. Morial CC, Imago Productions Successfully Launch Co-owned International Disaster Conference & Exposition

January 23, 2012
When the International Disaster Conference & Exposition (IDCE2012) recently wrapped at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, it was the first time the venue had not only hosted the event, but also co-owned and produced it along with Cumming, Ga.-based Imago Productions. The city of New Orleans certainly is no stranger to disasters, with Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico deeply impacting the city and surrounding region, so when the opportunity arose to form a unique venue-owner partnership, what is widely known as the German モMesse Modelヤ, with Imago on the IDCE2012 event, Ernest N. Morial CC officials decided it was a good idea. モWe had been looking for an opportunity to attempt a new business model, and this seemed like a great fit, considering the subject matter and the enthusiasm from our partners,ヤ said Bob Johnson, president and general manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial CC. モRather than just being a landlord, we will share in some of the risk and enjoy some of the rewards.ヤ He added, モIn this ultra-competitive environment, all facility managers are looking for new opportunities and we think this business model has merit. New Orleans benefits with a long-term commitment, and we have a show on our calendar in a need month.ヤ The event, which ran Jan. 17-19 at the center, drew nearly 2,000 emergency management professionals from government and industry who heard from some of the industry's top leaders, as well as saw industry innovations from 162 companies displaying their products and services on the trade show floor. Exhibitors who took a chance on the first-time show were pleased with the results. モThis was a great opportunity for us,ヤ said Roi Maufas of Gorilla Design, which debuted its Disaster Relief Unit, a converted shipping container that provides sustainable living quarters designed to keep an entire family safe from harm through the course of a disaster. He added, モThe time we spent here and the contacts we made are extremely valuable and have already contributed significantly to our business.ヤ Speakers at IDCE2012 included FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who delivered the keynote and emphasized the necessity of government and business to plan together in order to adequately handle future disasters. モThere is no one person or agency that can be in charge and make all the decisions in a major disaster,ヤ Fugate said. He added, モIt takes a team, and our job as emergency managers is to build that team.ヤ Other speakers included U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; Lt. General Russel Honor� , who led the U.S. Department of Defense�s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi; Meir Elran of Israel�s Tel Aviv University�s Homeland Security Program; Walt Ehmer, president of Waffle House, which has earned distinction for opening its restaurants quickly after major disasters; and Willy Steenbakkers of The Netherlands Ministry of Security and Justice on the new role of government as supporting private citizens� more active roles in their own safety and security. モWe're grateful to all the speakers, attendees and exhibitors who helped us fulfill our goal of bringing together all disciplines of the disaster industry from public and private sectors and from around the globe for a meaningful conference,ヤ said Jimmy Mouton, who created the event concept and directed IDCE2012. He added, モOur idea was to provide a forum for these professionals to share lessons learned, and in the process, we learned how valuable an opportunity to come together like this can be.ヤ Next year's IDCE2013 will be held Jan. 15-17 at the Ernest N. Morial CC.

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