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Bioscience Conference marking 10th year

Members of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. pose with Jackie Tentinger, Event Center Sales Manager and Event Manager. Pictured are Darlene Macklin (from left to right), Tentinger, Nicole Frodermann, Abraham Algadi and Ashley Goettig. (Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe)1 / 2
Abraham Algadi, the manager of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., visits with Event Center Sales Manager and Event Manager Jackie Tentinger. (Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — It’s a big year for the Bioscience Conference.

Not only is it the 10th year of the event, but it is also Abraham Algadi’s first as the manager of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. (WREDC)

“It’s a big milestone in the history of the conference,” Algadi said. “What’s really different this year is it’s at the newly-built, recently-opened Worthington Event Center. The facility lends itself to having all conference proceedings take place in the same spot.”

The two-day conference is April 3-4, and it will be in a convenient location.

“The location is important because across the street is the (Bioscience Advancement Center),” Algadi said. “Across the street is Prairie Holdings and Newport Labs. We’re going to tour some of those businesses and also tour the entire bio-business park itself and sell the fact that there is water, sewer, 10-ton roads and everything — make an offer.

“I think people build connections at a place like a conference by familiarizing themselves with the geography of the area, and shaking hands with some people,” Algadi said. “It’s going to be much easier later to jump into the next discussion.”

Algadi is hoping to use the conference as an avenue to attract new investors and businesses.

“What I’m really hoping to do is (with) the three or four or five business people who are coming just to check us out, I will hopefully establish some form of contact and follow up close to the conference,” he said.

Sitting in the conference room outside his office at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, Algadi flipped through old photos.

“It’s totally different,” he said, looking at a photo from 10 years ago. “I’m not belittling this; this is cool. Cozy and family-like.”

He then took out a photo of the Event Center.

“Here it looks like a bunch of business people getting together,” Algadi said. “It doesn’t come easy. It takes time. Those are the kinds of things we are going to build on. Hopefully, we are going to have consistent imaging.

“If you do not say who you are, somebody will tell you who you are,” he continued. “You are who you think you are. We also know how to be sophisticated and how to serve wine and cheese at the exhibit hall. In fact, we are going to have that and a cash bar.”

The theme this year is “Towards a Regional Bio-Business Ecosystem.”

“Bio-business, in the broadest sense of bio, includes, but is not limited to, the wonderful work that is being done at Newport Labs, Prairie Holdings, Merial, in addition to what Merck does — the vets and a number of other pioneers in the business in Worthington along the lines of vaccines and animal health,” Algadi explained. “We are talking to folks at Newport Labs and others to highlight some of the research they are doing. That will be part of the program.”

Something new this year will be breakout sessions in the afternoon.

“We are also doing a dual track in the afternoons,” Algadi explained. “There will be two tracks on the afternoon of Thursday with breakout sessions. One starts at 1:30 — we’re basically breaking down the ballroom into two separate spaces and having breakout sessions. There is another breakout session on Friday.”

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. April 3, with breakfast and refreshments to follow. Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh is invited to share the welcome remarks and lead right into the first presenter.

The closing comments will be at 3 p.m. April 4.

Doug Berven, vice president of corporate affairs of POET, is the keynote speaker on Friday.

“POET is a national renewable energy company with heavy presence in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.” Algadi said. “Here’s an added value of bio-based business that does not just produce raw material that is processed somewhere else and sold back to us at a higher price. It processes the raw material here. It adds value to it and brings the money back here.”

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will also speak about the state of bio-business in Minnesota.

“The secretary of state is heavily involved with the U.S.-Russia innovation conference, which is going to happen a couple weeks prior to ours,” Algadi said. “He has a broader world view of bio stuff. He has really been a leader on some of the innovation things that are happening.”

There is also a panel discussion from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester about Destination Medical Center and its impact on the southeast Minnesota economy.

“We are inviting those guys and saying, ‘Come to Worthington and tell us what’s happening. How are you doing some of those things?” Algadi said. “I think there are some lessons to be learned from them.”

Outside the Event Center — under a 40- by 60-foot heated tent — exhibitors will have dedicated space.

“We are going to have some really cool exhibitors this year,” Algadi said. “We’re going to have a company that does 3D printing. They’re going to do a demo on some of the plastics they are doing. Of course, the U of M is coming. Minnesota West is going to exhibit.”

This year, Algadi wanted the exhibitors to have a more prominent role in the conference.

“The dilemma in the past was the exhibitors were almost somehow removed or not as close to the conference event as you want them,” he said. “All successful conferences will have you go through the exhibit area to go through the conference. Otherwise, the exhibitors have no value. They are paying $700 to come here — they want to get something for it.”

Algadi is hoping for better attendance this year than a year ago. Postcards and emails have been sent to encourage attendance.

“Primarily the weather played an incredibly bad role (a year ago),” he said. “I am familiar from last year in talking to some of my colleagues and people who knew I was moving and coming to Worthington and said, ‘We’ll see you in Worthington.’ Three of them called two days prior and said, ‘I’m not coming, the weather is bad.’ I’m hoping that won’t happen this year.”

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached

at 376-7323.