VGM Heartland Conference brings hundreds to Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

VGM Heartland Conference brings hundreds to Waterloo

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The VGM Heartland Conference kicked off Monday, bringing people from all over the country to Waterloo. The VGM Heartland Conference kicked off Monday, bringing people from all over the country to Waterloo.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

One of the biggest conferences of the year in the Cedar Valley is underway.

The VGM Heartland Conference kicked off Monday, bringing people from all over the country to Waterloo.

The event means big bucks for the local economy.

Catherine Hahn checked in for this year's conference. The physical therapist from Muscatine wants to learn more about durable medical equipment.

"This is really good for getting your hands-on learning about how to do wheelchair assessment and working with adaptable equipment," said Hahn. "And the opportunity to see the vendors on the floor and talk with people that rep those, it's a wonderful opportunity."

Nearly 1,000 people are expected to pass through the doors of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center this week.

The conference is in its 12th year and brings people from all over North America.

Monday night's hog roast at the Riverloop Amphitheatre helped kick things off.

"What we're hosting together are independently-owned medical equipment suppliers from all over the country," said VGM COO Jim Phillips. "We host them and our manufacturing distribution partners and encourage the members to review products they have and get the two parties to meet, purchase their equipment, use their services."

The conference is expected to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy.

"During the week is great," said Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We normally have people visit on the weekends so to have them during the week, we're excited to have them."

Conference organizers say it's the personal touches, from the welcome sign to the hog roast to the cookies made by VGM employees, that sets this conference apart.

"We plan to grow this," said Phillips. "This facility has been a great addition this year. We've usually had this at our building. We thought we needed to show off other parts of Waterloo."

The conference incorporates Waterloo's hospitality with its events.

That included a big fireworks display Monday night. The display moved from outside VGM's headquarters on the south side of the city to downtown Waterloo this year.

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