Tri-City Development Council's Gary White is hoping to add a dash of flavor to this year's 11th annual Smartmap Expo.
While networking will remain a central part of the free event in Pasco, White hopes some new additions will reflect this year's theme: "The Magic of Manufacturing."
After attending a number of Northwest manufacturing trade shows, White, director of business retention and expansion for TRIDEC, said he decided it was time for a change.
So while 145 exhibitors, including many familiar faces, will pack TRAC's exhibition hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 26, the event also will include wine and food makers.
Lamb Weston's Specialty Food Tasting Pavilion will feature 13 local food manufacturers offering free samples during the day.
Also, four wineries will serve free samples to attendees ages 21 and older from noon to 4 p.m. And there will be live music.
The Smartmap Expo gets a jump start from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 25 with Lockheed Martin's Magic of Manufacturing Experience.
Cost for that event is $30 per person and includes a dinner and a 55-minute movie created by the Edge Factor, a Canadian film company. The company's website says they tell stories of innovative manufacturing teams working together to design and build incredible products that impact lives.
"If these movies don't bring a tear to your eye, you're dead," White said.
Admission to Thursday's events is free and open to the public. White hopes to see about 900 people attend. Last year's attendance was about 650.
Also new this year is the announcement of the first Impact Washington Innovator of the Year Award.
Smartmap Expo is a chance to show off the Tri-Cities, as many exhibitors and attendees are coming from outside the area, making it a Northwest event, White said.
To register for the expo or for more information, go to smartmapexpo.org.
Other highlights include:
-- Lockheed Martin's innovative group known as the "Snake Works" will fill a 20- by 100-foot pavilion with some of the "wild and crazy" things they've come up with in the recent past. Members of the group will be on hand to explain how they took an idea, such as a plane or a crane, from prototype to finished product.
-- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and TRIDEC are offering a PNNL Investors Pavilion, where 12 inventors with small companies will display their products.
It's a chance for those inventors to find manufacturers and possibly investors. Members of the Keiretsu Forum, the largest angel investment network in the world, are expected at the expo.
-- Tri-Tech Skills Center students will be showing off their culinary arts, radio and TV and DigiPen programs.
-- Students from the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM, Electric Guitar Program at Kiona-Benton, Hanford and Richland high schools will display electric guitars they've created and will be on hand to discuss how they designed, planned and built the instruments.
"Some of these are really cool looking, and they are being built here right in the Tri-Cities by high school students," White said.
-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org