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INTERNATIONAL 13EURO SMES EMPOWERED CROATIAConsulting and lobbying boutique company Management Consulting and Business Building Company (CBBS) has forged a new initiative with central and southeast European associations in an attempt to bring small and medium enterprises (SMEs) into the fold.The MOU between CBBS, Central European Trade Fair Alliance (CEFA) and International exhibition statistics union Centrex is hoped to increase regional backing from the SMEs that typically comprise trade fair exhibitors. CEFA and Centrex members organise more than 1,000 exhibitions and events.CEIR TO DEBATE DOWNGRADE The recent controversial downgrade of the US's economy rating and its effect on the American exhibition sector has prompted fresh debate at this year's Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Predict conference.Taking place 15 September at the Time Warner Center in New York City, the annual conference aims to assemble an exclusive group including exhibition decision makers, private equity firms, debt providers, investment firms and financial press for a frank exchange of ideas about the industry's future and the implications for specific business sectors."Economists have spent the summer marking down their forecasts for near-term economic growth in the US and around the world," said CEIR economist Jeffrey Werling. "Several shocks including natural disasters and political intransigence have combined to derail the nascent recovery."Like the economy, exhibitions were showing strong signs of life through 2010 and into early 2011, Werling pointed out. "Can robust recovery continue despite anemic economic and employment growth? What non-economic features of the exhibition industry might help insulate it from stagnation and is the outlook for some sectors better than for others?"USANEW VENUE OPENS NEAR URALSA new 50,000sqm venue has opened in Ekaterinburg, which combined with a new international airport hopes to usher in a new era of international exhibitions.The first phase of construction at Ekaterinburg-Expo, built to coincide with the launch of the Ural International Exhibition and Forum of Industry and Innovation Innoprom 2011, was completed in July. The venue is one of one of Russia's largest for international events.The facility, built with investment from the surrounding Sverdlovsk region, is now due to be entirely finished by the end of the year, offering three 12m high 10,000sqm exhibition halls and one 15m high 20,000sqm exhibition hall with 100m open spaces on either side. Ekaterinburg-Expo also has five 230sqm conference halls, two 750sqm conference halls and one main plenary hall with an area of 1,500sqm. The venue was designed by German architect firm Wulf & Partner, the company that designed Stuttgart Messe in collaboration with Spanish architect Jose Asebilo Marine.The exhibition centre is located near the new Koltsovo international airport, 15 minutes from the city's downtown district. Chairman of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs (RUEF) Sergey Alexeev told EN the airport is a timely addition to the city: "This development shows the exhibition industry in Russia is not staying in one place; we're devloping."RUSSIA UBM MONTGOMERY EXPANDS IN AFRICA The MD of UBM Montgomery west Africa claims Nigeria's economic progress has positioned it to become a vital strategic location for the company's global trade.Unveiling the company's upcoming projects for 2012 in Lagos, Montgomery MD Damion Angus said Nigeria is transforming into one of the most enticing places for investment thanks to its fast-growing economy and ease of doing business."Recognising the expansion and diversification of Nigeria's economy, as well as the need for a vehicle to bring the world's business to Nigeria, UBM Montgomery west Africa has expanded its portfolio of events to include three world-leading expos, ICT west Africa, Afribuild west Africa and PROPAK west Africa," he said. Nigeria's GDP growth and status as the world's 12th biggest oil producer is creating investment opportunities amid continuing infrastructure development.NIGERIATRADE FAIRS FINAllY RETURN TO GROwThVisitor and exhibitor numbers to German trade fairs have returned to growth in the first half of 2011.According to the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA), exhibitor numbers to the 85 trade fairs held in Germany during the first six months of 2011 averaged an increase of four per cent, compared to growth of less than one per cent in the same period last year.Visitor numbers also increased by four per cent following a drop of almost one per cent in the first half of 2010.The slow recovery in 2010 is due to the lag exhibitions experience in relation to overall economic developments, as preparation for participation is relatively lengthy and because trade fairs take place at fixed intervals."The high increase in attendance shows that, in an increasingly competitive market for communication instruments, trade fairs have successfully held their ground," said a spokesman for AUMA in a statement.GERMANY

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