The Border Security Expo is growing its event across multiple categories—the 2012 event attracted 1,800 attendees from 10 countries, an increase of 21 percent from the year prior. The exhibit hall, which sits at about 25,200 net-square-feet, was sold out to accommodate the 200-plus exhibitors at the expo, a 24 percent year-over-year increase.
“With the military currently downsizing, some of the large integrators and other companies in the security and defense fields have been looking for other areas to do business,” says Michael Rosenberg, vice president at E.J. Krause & Associates, which produces the Border Security Expo. “The event is now the largest of its kind in the world. We’ve been successful, and continue to do so, because we decided early on that this is the space within the Department of Homeland Security’s sector that we need to be in.”
Rosenberg says the group has been encouraged over the years to incorporate different aspects of national security within the expo, but felt this area was best served as a streamlined, standalone event, a move that has been borne out in the expo’s recent numbers.
“Because we kept it a border security event, we’ve had a number of organizations recently saying the Border Security Expo is the best conference of its kind in the world,” says Rosenberg. “Border security has become a global issue, and we’re now seeing attendees coming in from many countries because there really aren’t any high-level border security conferences elsewhere. Additionally, we’ve realized its necessary to have a dynamic program both in the conference and exhibition fronts.”
Rosenberg adds that due to changing migratory patterns across Europe, and with a surge of refugees caused by the Arab spring, many international officials are seeking solutions to control population flows into and out of various nations, a reason for the high turnout from both attendees and exhibitors. In order to meet the needs of these growing bases, the show has rolled out new programs, speakers and services.
“This year we were able to get Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to deliver our keynote address,” says Rosenberg. “I knew if I could get the governor in she would speak about [Arizona’s controversial immigration policy] SB.1070 and her fight with the federal government. From there, we attracted press from all over the world. We felt, and were able to demonstrate, that the Border Security Expo is not just a tradeshow and conference, but can also impact the national debate.”
In addition to interesting keynotes, Rosenberg says several awards and commemorations are given at this tradeshow and conference to enhance interest, in addition to educational sessions. The Border Security Expo also works with the Department of Homeland Security for certain aspects, like product judging contests, to bring credibility to the event. Additionally, the group consulted members of the heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies, in addition to police chiefs and sheriffs in Southwest border states.
“We wanted to get a sense of what was going on and what they wanted to see at the conference and exposition. The past two years has been very difficult for law enforcement-type events,” says Rosenberg. “I made sure I personally met with our top 25 exhibitors around the country. A good amount of our attendees are law enforcement personnel, which is why we developed these specialized training courses. They allow police officers to come in at no cost to take courses, and some of them were able to get credits—the equivalent of what a doctor would get in terms of continuing education credits. All of these things really helped.”