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From the Editor : Progress in New Orleans

November 2009 By Bob Neubauer
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I just got back from New Orleans, where I attended the National Government Publishing Association's annual conference. Cajun cooking was a recurring theme, but the impact of Hurricane Katrina was never far from anyone's mind either. As part of the three-day event, we took a sobering tour of the city's once-flooded neighborhoods.

Though some boarded-up homes remain from that 2005 tragedy, what's most apparent now are the empty, overgrown lots where homes used to be. We saw many signs of progress too, including a Habitat for Humanity home sponsored by Kodak. NGPA donated money for the planting of trees on the property once the home is finished.

After such a large turnout at last year's NGPA conference, (82 people) it was a little disappointing to see only two dozen in-plant managers this year. Still, other conferences were cancelled this year due to low registration, so it was great that NGPA was able to pull this one off. Members came from as far away as Alaska and Montana, and it was great to touch base with them and find out what's going on in their shops. (Read the full story.)

The low numbers were a big concern to organizers. NGPA President Richard Beto initiated a discussion about future NGPA conferences and made a suggestion along the lines of what I recommended in my column last month: Partnering with another conference. He asked attendees if they would be willing to co-locate with the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's event in June. Though several were interested, the major roadblock was the timing. The June event is part of the current fiscal year, so it's not in their budgets. For such a merger to work, NGPA would have to skip 2010 and join IPMA in 2011.

Faced with that, association members opted to proceed with a 2010 conference in Virginia Beach. They will look for ways to cut costs, and be open to sharing the venue with a regional mailing conference. Even so, vendor support is not assured, especially since SUPDMC and TACUP have also picked fall dates for their 2010 conferences. This could result in a 2009 redo, with all three events—plus Graph Expo—occurring back to back.

In the current issue, incoming IPMA President John Sarantakos has made an even more drastic suggestion than the one I made last month (i.e., merge all in-plant associations into IPMA). And though most of his points make perfect sense, I have to wonder what the catalyst will be to push these groups to co-locate. Even NGPA, which was actually interested in such a solution, discovered roadblocks. Clearly this can of worms has only been opened a crack, and discussions of conference consolidation will have to continue for some time.


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