Proposal for an annual Worcester “Car of the Future Conference”

By Jim May

A unique opportunity exists in 2009 for the futures of both Worcester and WPI. The long range opportunity could be enormous. In the short term it is still a very attractive marketing opportunity.
Not that long ago, the last place on earth you would have found me on my Fourth of July weekend was Lincoln Square, the epicenter of the Summer Nationals car show. However, over the last five years I have come to increasingly appreciate the passion that the car restorers have for their craft which is not unlike my own: remodeling older homes and historic buildings in the Highland-WPI area.

Needless to say, I am a pretty “green” kind of guy: anything pro-environment is a plus for me.
I responded strongly to the forward thinking appeal of Obama’s messages of fuel-efficient cars, alternative solutions and providing incentives for inventors. In Worcester we have a great potential to capitalize on Obama’s plan by making our City a center for future transportation technologies. Right now there is no single city that can say it is the world leader in this technology.

A natural way to kick off Worcester’s leadership is during the Summer Nationals show. While the “gearheads” who enjoy tinkering with the old cars will certainly be drawn to this newer technology too, the Conference I am proposing would bring a different sort of person here. Many of the visitors of this technologically elite group would be visiting our city for the first time. At this conference we could have an exciting mix of : abstract tinkerers and technologically curious, high school whiz kids, environmentalists, intellectuals and engineering professionals.

Cambridge, MA (i.e. MIT) doesn’t have anything like the Summer Nationals, of course. That’s part of the reason why it is vital that Worcester strikes hard this year. We could showcase our leadership and bring worldwide attention to Worcester’s progress in the industry with “visits” from famous environmentalists and “auto celebrities” like: Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Al Gore, Ed Begley Jr.—who knows—maybe even Obama himself.

Like the original Summer Nationals show in 1991, the first “Future Car” conference could be a small meeting for enthusiasts and the curious. There will be several ways to guerilla market which can be discussed later. One of the appealing things about this plan is the nature of the existing Summer Nationals is lowbrow. The lowbrow appeal will help keep my conference under the radar, and we’ll build up our growth stealthily. Boston and other competitor cities won’t even see this one coming.

If it gets really big, there is more permanent space in the Lincoln Square-Gateway Park region. If the holiday vacation interferes with business schedules, we easily come before the Summer Nationals crowds. But both of those limitations would be great problems to have in the future.

One thing is certain at this moment: the “Car of the Future” industry is going to be huge. Who says Worcester can’t show leadership? I’m not. Our city could take the advantage with a plan to market this wisely. Therefore, I appeal to you to see if you might be interested in working with me to plan such a conference.

Leave a Reply