Debbie Maynard, executive director of symposium sponsor the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, said the final attendance numbers for the event topped 200 and that both the guests and the speakers were diverse in experience and background. Many have shared their thoughts with her office since wrapping up last Friday afternoon.
“We have received feedback from attendees and from several of the program speakers,” said Maynard, saying they were “overwhelmed” with the response from all.
Symposium chairman Bill Reid concurred: “The feedback that we are getting is that the Bluefield Coal Symposium was a great success. [It] provided excellent opportunities for not only making new contacts, but understanding roles, accomplishments and challenges in the field of providing greater safety to the nation’s coal mines.”
Both felt the array of speakers taking the stage at the Bluefield Holiday Inn September 27-29 were not only experts in their respective field, but also engaging presenters. “The topics the (Symposium) committee selected were well covered by all of the speakers. Of course, with Governor Manchin and [Massey chairman] Don Blankenship, many people felt that we could not have had better speakers.”
One new addition to the event, formerly known as the Bluefield Coal Symposium, was the availability of exhibitors during the event – fourteen were available to talk about their products and services, completely filling the exhibition space. It is an addition Maynard said will likely be kept part of future symposiums.
The dates for the next Bluefield Coal Symposium, to be held in 2008, will not be known for a while – mainly because the Chamber and sponsors are now busy preparing for the biennial Bluefield Coal Show, being held September 12-14, 2007.
“The Chamber commends the volunteers, sponsors, media, coal publications, committee and all the coal industry leaders for an outstanding program,” Maynard said.
Additionally, both are confident the positive momentum of the Symposium will flow into next year. “This is one of the most important coal exhibitions in the nation and, given the symposium success, the Coal Show next year is expected to reach new heights,” said Reid.