Since 2015, the South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo has linked state players and piqued discussion on industry’s hot topics.
In 2020, that meant connecting in a virtual conference hall and tuning into speakers from across the state in your living room.
This year, the event will return to its brick-and-mortar presence along with almost three football fields of exhibits in the Greenville Convention Center on Nov. 10-12.
“We’re expecting a great turnout,” said Rick Jenkins, group publisher of SC Biz News, co-host of the event alongside the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership, S.C. Technical College System, S.C. Council on Competitiveness and the S.C. Research Authority.
About 220 exhibitors from South Carolina and surrounding states are expected this year.
“We just felt that it was the time to get back together and to see each other in person,” Jenkins said. “We will be following CDC guidelines, and we will be recommending that people wear a mask. It will not be required.”
The event will launch with a leader- ship lunch at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 10 that explores different facets of strategic challenges for leaders who manage processes, procedures and people. Participants are asked to pre-register and can walk away with 4.5 SHRM or HRCI credits.
An all-access pass is $300, while a build-your-own agenda package starts at $25 to walk the floor and attend training track sessions. Add-ons including keynotes and the leadership training day session range from $45 to $95.
Keynotes and training sessions on Nov. 11 will hone in on topics like implementing 4.0 technology on the factory floor and the future of electric vehicles in South Carolina. Scheduled speakers hail from Boeing, Kion North America, IoTco, Volvo Trucks, Duke Energy, Pro- terra, Arrival, Dominion Energy and Border States Electric.
On Nov. 12, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette will lead a breakfast panel with female executives in manufacturing, followed by Gov. Henry McMaster’s presentation of the annual SCMEP Manufacturing Excellence Awards during a noon luncheon.
“We try to make sure that we are talking about the things that manufacturers are talking about around their water cooler at their manufacturing facility,” Jenkins said. “This year is no different.”
Except for the loss of a key manufacturing community figure who also was pivotal to starting the conference and running its training programs each year: the late Chuck Spangler.
“Chuck was one of the brightest faces of the conference,” Jenkins said. “And SCMEP, under his leadership, has been involved heavily with the conference since its inception.”
The SCMEP CEO will be honored at the event. He died Oct. 15.
“Chuck was a wonderful friend to SCBiz and to the manufacturing conference, and it’s not going to feel the same without Chuck sitting up there on that stage beside me,” Jenkins said. “In past conferences, I’ve always told the crowd that manufacturers in South Carolina did not have a better friend than Chuck Spangler and his crew at SCMEP. I meant that then and I mean it now. There will be a void there without Chuck, but we’re going to remember him.”