As originally seen in Associations Now.

Local exhibitors, sponsors and speakers can not only enhance the attendee experience, but save costs for your association.

As you evaluate locations for future meetings, you should consider which cities offer expertise related to your organization. Attendee experience can make or break a meeting. But by connecting your participants with leaders in their particular field—based right there in the meeting city—you can elevate their meeting experience. And by linking up with your industry locally, you can often save money while enhancing your event by considering local exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and attendees.

That’s what the American Association for Anatomy experienced when Indianapolis was selected for the 2021 Experimental Biology conference, a joint meeting with five scientific organizations. While the city’s convention-friendly amenities were attractive, the science connections the location offered were also selling points.

“We welcome participation from industry to help support the meeting and attendees who may be interested in pursuing careers outside of academia or outside of clinical environments,” says Shawn Boynes, FASAE, CAE, executive director at American Association for Anatomy (AAA), one of the five partner organizations. “Specifically for AAA, Indiana University (I.U.) has a major presence in the city, and the largest anatomy department in the country is at I.U. That’s a bonus for AAA because we have so many members at the university that live throughout the state.”

Several other organizations focused on life sciences and technology innovation recently held meetings in Indianapolis. These include the American Chemical Society, American Nuclear Society, American Physical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Society for Microbiology. The location gave these groups the opportunity to connect to Indy’s vast life sciences community. For example, when the American Association of Diabetes Educators brought its meeting to Indy a few years ago, they partnered with Eli Lilly and Company to host an event on its campus.

“When people come here, you can get access to real people at companies,” says Patty Martin, president and CEO of BioCrossroads, an initiative that advances the life sciences in Indiana. “Executives are available here in a way that they aren’t anywhere else.”

Attribute it to the famous Hoosier hospitality. “There’s real access in a way is that is welcoming,” Martin says.

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) was formed in 1999 to bring together the chief executives of Central Indiana’s prominent corporations, foundations and universities in a strategic and collaborative effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth.

CICP launched BioCrossroads in 2003 as the first of six sector initiatives. Indiana’s life sciences industry now delivers a $63 billion economic impact to the state, and Indiana ranks #2 of all 50 states in life sciences exports, according to BioCrossroads. Indiana has nearly 2,000 life sciences companies and more than 56,000 life sciences employees—ranking among the top 5 of all 50 states.

Major companies have made Indiana their home. The state is the global headquarters for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company; device manufacturers Zimmer Biomet, Cook Medical and DePuy Orthopaedics; agbiotech company Corteva Agrisciences; and health insurance company Anthem. Indiana is also the North American headquarters of diagnostics company Roche Diagnostics.

In addition, several companies have major operations in Indiana, including medical device companies Beckman Coulter and Boston Scientific and drug development company Covance.

The state boasts world-famous schools of medicine and centers of excellence. In 2018, Eli Lilly and Company and the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute, in collaboration with I.U. School of Medicine, created the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence. Another example is the Center for Nutrition and Immunity, which focuses on research related to infant nutrition and immune system development. It was created by Mead Johnson Nutritionals and I.U. School of Medicine. I.U. also houses the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center.

“Indy’s a great fit for scientific meetings because they genuinely work to ensure that groups understand the presence of tech and life science companies in the state that may be interested in partnering with groups hosting meetings in Indy and/or providing support via content experts, tours of facilities, or exhibiting to demonstrate their capabilities,” Boynes says. “More than that, they’re willing to go the extra mile to create an environment for meetings’ success given all that the city has to offer.”