OCEAN CITY — Despite unemployment numbers and economic conditions as tumultuous as most can remember, the turnout for two annual events was something organizers will not soon forget.
The Roland E. Powell Convention Center was packed with thousands of people last weekend as the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s (OCHRMA) Annual Trade Show and the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce’s Job Fair welcomed literally thousands of people, vendors and exhibitors.
Organizers for both events conceded in recent months that they had been having a harder time selling booth space for vendors and securing an audience for those vendors in pre-registered attendees.
“We got much more aggressive this year because we were still selling booths a few days before the event,” said OCHMRA Executive Director Susan Jones, “but in the end, it was the best show we’ve ever had as far as exhibits and for attendees.”
Jones said the record numbers of vendors (close to 400 vendors) and attendees (3,912 pre-registered guests, and another 450 who signed up throughout the weekend) marks the most successful show in her 15 years and perhaps in the event’s 36-year history.
“We tried to find out what we were missing as far as what we thought people would be looking for, and we made more cold calls than we ever have before,” said Jones. “In the end, it paid off for us, and it’s a really important event for us because it funds our entire budget, so if we have no show, we have no association.”
Chamber Executive Director Melanie Pursel said the job fair was “packed to the gills”, and entertained over 4,000 people seeking summer and full-time employment in Ocean City.
“Employers were thrilled with not only the response, but also the quality of the applicants,” said Pursel. “The people at one local restaurant told me that they filled all the positions for both of their locations in town during the fair.”
Both events noted there were many newcomers as far as businesses and vendors go and hinted that at least from that perspective, the business outlook could be starting to brighten.
Last weekend’s two stellar turnouts at both the trade show and the job fair could indicate that businesses and the workforce are poised to push their way out of economic slumber.
OCHMRA event coordinator Amy Tingle said the weekend showed people are ready to get back to business. “I know there were some exhibitors who settled deals right on the show room floor, and we had several of them tell us that it was their best show ever,” said Tingle.