With the launch of its new Association Resource Center, Northern Illinois University is looking to make its assets and resources available to the association community.

The ARC is a Web portal that gives meeting planners and executives access to all of the services that NIU offers associations, including conference facilities, research, speakers, staff training, and student connections. The initiative stems from NIU Outreach, an arm of the university charged with connecting NIU to associations, explains Ross Ament, director, association relations at NIU Outreach. Ament, a former association executive, has been working with the nonprofit community since he joined the school three years ago. The new ARC is designed to bring all NIU's services for associations onto one platform.

The university breaks its association services into four major areas: meetings and events; education and training; applied research; and student connections.

For meetings and events, it has three International Association of Conference Centers-certified conference centers on its campuses — Hoffman Estates, Naperville, and Rockford — all of which can be used during the day for meetings. In addition, NIU has meeting planning staff, who can be hired to plan events; as well as its own registration service. It's a full-service registration system with a call center, pre- and post event services, and on-site management that associations can use for any events, not just those at NIU facilities. Also, the university has a speaker's bureau composed of its faculty.

Through the ARC, associations can work with NIU on staff training and education (including e-learning), content development for meetings and programs, and staff retreats and workshops for association executives. Associations also can use NIU's resources to conduct research, including economic impact studies, member surveys, trend analysis, and white papers.

Finally, ARC connects associations to the NIU student body. It gives associations the ability to reach out to students for internships, membership, career development, and other opportunities. In turn, the college makes students aware of the value of associations.

“Once they get their degree, they go out into the real world. And what is the best entity to continue to provide professional support?” asks Ament. “Your association.”

The college would like to develop an association fair, which would be like a career fair, except it would showcase associations, not employers. But that's down the road, says Ament.

The services are provided a la carte and fees vary based on the services contracted, explains Mary Collins, product manager, NIU Outreach. However, some of the services, like those related to student connections, will be offered free of charge.

Sign of the (Hard) Times

The launch of Reed Travel Exhibitions' first U.S. conference — the Americas Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition — will be delayed at least a year, according to RTE Meetings and Incentive Events Group Exhibition Director Paul Kennedy. Kennedy made the announcement February 25 at the company's Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo in Australia, citing the global economy.

The inaugural AIBTM had been scheduled for June 29-July 1, 2010, at the Baltimore Convention Center.