Mary Beth Romig
504-566-5019/ 504-606-8430 cell

Kelly Schulz

Panels a gift to New Orleans from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association via New Orleans CVB’s National Customer Advisory Council of prominent international convention planners

NEW ORLEANS – Sept. 4, 2007 - Thanks to the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s (SGIA) “SGIA Canal Street Initiative,” 20 large-format graphic panels will be installed in windows along Canal Street tomorrow morning as part of an effort to heighten the street’s visual impact. This first series of panels will be in place for the celebration of the completion of the Canal Street Improvement Project on Saturday, September 8. Canal Street: A National Treasure is a day-long celebration designed to celebrate and showcase the city’s most famous historically commercial corridor.

The initial installation of the panels will take place at 800 Canal Street and at 810 Canal Street on Wednesday morning, September 5, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

The panels are a gift of the SGIA with the support from its member printers, manufacturers, suppliers and installation specialists. The SGIA will host its convention in New Orleans in October 2009.

The Canal Street Initiative was created to promote the city’s heritage and enhance its storefront landscapes while reconstruction is in full force. The association launched this plan following the visit of SGIA President and CEO Michael Robertson to New Orleans last May to attend the meeting of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau’s National Customer Advisory Council. Formed by the CVB in 2004, the Council is a prominent group of international convention planners that convene regularly to provide strategic counsel on best practices, meetings industry trends, customer service and re-branding relative to New Orleans’ convention industry.

After observing windows covered in plywood along the city’s major artery, Robertson called upon his members to “adopt” Canal Street. When the project is complete, approximately 80 panels be installed, using images that represent the historical essence of New Orleans.

“This is a major undertaking that will not only enhance the building façades along Canal Street, but also publicize the lucrative and aesthetic possibilities of large-format digital imaging,” said Robertson. “This initiative demonstrates how specialty imaging can enhance buildings and areas during a construction process.”

“We are so grateful to SGIA for this extremely generous donation, and for their support of New Orleans,” said New Orleans CVB President and CEO J. Stephen Perry. “As the city completes its beautification plans for Canal Street, the installation of these beautiful graphic panels will be a much welcomed addition to the urban landscape. This project is a perfect example of how the CVB’s global relationships with convention planners and C-level executives not only strengthen how we market ourselves as a convention destination, but also help the city overall by beautifying a street heavily traveled by tourists and residents. ”

SGIA collaborated with the City of New Orleans and the Downtown Development District to secure necessary permitting for the project and to identify the locations for the panels, and with the DDD and the NOMCVB to select images. DDD worked with Canal Street property owners to get authorization to install the graphics.

“The DDD embraced this project because it is important for us to enhance the look of Canal Street while we implement the longer horizon elements of the Canal Street Development Strategy like upper floor development and retail attraction,” said DDD President Kurt Weigle. “We are grateful to the support of SGIA, the property owners and the CVB for helping move this forward.”

The local office of Freeman, a national convention services company, will install the first 20 panels.

“Freeman is happy to volunteer our time and materials to assist in the first installation phase of the SGIA Canal Street Initiative Project,” said Randy Duncan, director of Sales, Expositions Sales. “Freeman in New Orleans realizes the importance that image plays in bringing both the tourist and convention visitor to our town. To that end we hope with this project to help polish the image of what we believe to be the “front porch” of our city….Canal Street.”

The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau ( is the driving force behind New Orleans' most important industry, tourism. Today the cultural riches, sensual indulgences and unparalleled service that define the New Orleans experience continue to flourish, as they have for centuries. The most celebrated and historic core of the city - including the French Quarter, Central Business District, Warehouse and Arts District, Magazine Street and Garden District - not only remains intact, both physically and spiritually, it is thriving. The New Orleans CVB is proudly welcoming visitors and business travelers every day.

Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) comprises digital imaging, screen printing and the many other imaging technologies SGIA members use, including those they’ll tap in the future. These are the imaging processes and technologies employed to create new products and to enhance existing products including point-of-purchase displays, signs, advertisements, garments, containers and vehicles.

Freeman ( supports the power of face-to-face marketing by providing full service resources for corporate events, exhibit programs, expositions and conventions across North America.

Downtown Development District ( The Downtown Development District (DDD) is a special taxing district whose mission is to drive the development of Downtown New Orleans and be a catalyst for a prosperous, stimulating, innovative heart of the Crescent City.  They accomplish this by: cultivating economic development in such industries as bioscience, the arts, digital media and tourism; ensuring Downtown is clean and safe; serving as a voice and advocate for Downtown’s future; and, promoting Downtown as a world-class destination for residents and visitors.