The Alta Group, an international consultancy, will hold its annual customer financing conference for manufacturing executives September 20-21, 2004 in Chicago at the downtown Marriott. This year the program more broadly covers international leasing topics, including break-out sessions on Asian, European, and Latin American opportunities. The event is co-sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Equipment Leasing Association (ELA).

The conference is the only one of its kind focusing specifically on sales financing for manufacturers here and abroad. It attracts executive-level manufacturing and finance professionals as well as global managers, resellers and dealers who are planning to improve or expand business through sales-assisted finance.

Almost half of the $218 billion that the U.S. equipment leasing and financing industry is forecasted to earn this year will originate through captive or vendor finance programs supporting manufacturers. American manufacturing accounts for about 18% of the economy according to NAM data.

Dorothy Coleman, vice president, tax policy, at NAM said the trade group, based in Washington, has launched a campaign for growth and manufacturing renewal , focusing on the important role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy. In her keynote luncheon address, September 20, she will report on a study released this year by NAM, which concludes that "structural costs" add 22% to the cost of U.S. manufacturing.

"These costs include energy, health care, taxes, regulations, and legal reform," she said, adding that these additional costs faced by U.S. manufacturers makes it more difficult for them to compete in the global marketplace.

The Alta Group conference will explore some ways that manufacturers can use financing to increase their competitiveness globally. Sessions will cover how to select financial partners, improve program performance, expand globally, evaluate competition, develop channels for vertical business and establish collaborative systems for lease processing. For more information visit