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Local is very, very hot right now. There are so many things going on, not only with Google and Yahoo!, but also with all the hundreds of companies feasting in their wake via direct and vertical and niche channels; in the trenches with sales channels reaching out to local businesses; with technologists who are pushing the envelope via search, broadband and phone solutions; and with incumbent media looking to extend (or at least preserve) their franchises.

So, it was with real excitement that I accepted The Kelsey Group’s offer to co-produce the Local ’07 conference at The Santa Clara Marriott (yes, nestled between The San Jose International Airport and Yahoo! headquarters). How often do you get to help set the intellectual and business agenda for 500+ senior level execs? The conference is taking place March 20-21, with a pre-con welcome reception and other interesting activities March 19.

In putting together the show (with Kelsey colleagues Neal Polachek and Matt Booth), we really set tough standards for letting speakers up on the podium. One principal rule: No empty suits (or dresses)! We had to feel that we could talk for hours about local with the executive and find enough “new” to make a Local Onliner post out of it. We also had to feel that the company has been “out there.” Because here’s the thing: We are not speccing this anymore. Local online is a real business.

The Bottom Line: We feel this show only succeeds if all those who come to Santa Clara take away at least 30 sales, technology and content initiatives each that they can share with their teams when they get home (and, of course, many more business cards for future partnerships).

I’ll be boasting about specifics in further posts, but here is where we are with our *all star* group of speakers:

Our Keynoters (in alpha)
Steven Aldrich, Intuit
Nick Grouf, Spot Runner
Peter Horan, IAC
Ralph Kunz, Nokia Multimedia
Hilary Schneider, Yahoo!

Our Debating Heavy Hitters (keynote level, in alpha)
Jacob Aqrauo, eBay
Eric Chandler, Idearc SuperPages
Patrick Jabal, Google Local
Michael Mathieu, Freedom Interactive

Our Financial Insights
Nick Veronis, Veronis Suhler Stevenson

Our Featured Speakers (in alpha)
Bob Armour, ShopLocal
Steve Barth, MediaSpan Online
Matthew Berk, Marchex
Chris DeVore, Judy’s Book
Terry DiNatale, WebVisible
Ken Doctor, OutSell
Mary Lou Fulton, The Bakersfield Californian
Glenn Goad, Network Communications, Inc.
Peter Hutto,
Chris Jennewein, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Dick Larkin, Weblistic
Lem Lloyd, Oodle
Mike Markson, Topix
Ryan Massie, Ask
Elizabeth Osder, Yahoo! News
Howard Owens, Gatehouse Media
Barry Parr, Jupiter Research
Amy Rabinovitz, Classified Intelligence
Neil Salvage, Citysearch
Chad Schott, R.H. Donnelley
Chris Scotton, Innovectra
Ira Silberstein, The New York Times Co.
Patricia Lee Smith, Seattle Times Co.
Eric Stein, Google Local
Greg Sterling, Sterling Market Intelligence
Dana Todd, SiteLab
Ian White, Urban Mapping

My suggestion is this: Use the search box on our sites, and look up what these speakers have to say. Because they are many of THE newsmakers in local, we’ve written about almost all of them. And then sign up for the show.

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