INDIANAPOLIS — Starting Wednesday, more than 450 companies within the candy and snack industry will make their way to downtown Indianapolis.
Wednesday marks the start of the Sweets & Snacks Expo, hosted by the National Confectioners Association.
The national organization, which is based in Washington D.C., says it’s expected to bring in around 8,000, or more people to the downtown area.
The expo, which is usually held in Chicago, will change course for the first time by switching locations to Indianapolis. Organizers say millions of dollars in health and safety investments, at the Indiana Convention Center, were part of the draw in coming to the Circle City.
“There’s over $7 million in investments that the Indiana Convention Center has placed throughout the building,” said Communications Director Lauren Boland, National Confectioners Association. “Whether that’s increased sanitation, air filters, things like that, we’re really excited to get back to business and to do so safely in Indianapolis.”
Visit Indy Senior Vice President Chris Gahl says the investments have allowed Indy to stay competitive in hosting major events, including the first trade show since the pandemic through this expo.
“To have that happen here in Indianapolis, to have encouraged them away from Chicago, one of our major competitors to Indy, is a big win,” Gahl said. “It signifies that Indianapolis’s recovery is arguably more speedy than any other city in the nation.”
Gahl says the expo is expected to bring in about $7 million for the city, its surrounding hotels, restaurants and the convention center.
While the trade show signifies the return of major conventions and events, it’s also highlighting the demand for Indy as the host city.
“We know that’s catching the attention of other event organizers,” said Gahl, “and so while we’ve hosted basketball tournaments, and volleyball tournaments and football games, while we’ve hosted smaller conventions and events, this is the first major trade and it’s sought after.”
“Other major cities are calling us saying ‘How are you able to do this?'” He added, “There’s a sense of pride it stirs up in us here at Visit Indy, the city, Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana Convention Center that we’re forging ahead in a safe manner and welcoming visitors again inside the walls of the convention center.”
Over the next few days, candy and snack companies will utilize the convention center for networking and to show off their latest products.
Wednesday’s kickoff includes a ribbon cutting ceremony, featuring Governor Eric Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett.