The Marble Institute of America said it has landed a sponsorship deal for it's first-ever Advertising Awards Competition, which will be presented at the StonExpo in Las Vegas, October 19-22 . Salem Stone, a relative newcomer to the natural stone industry, has agreed to contribute $7,500 to fund the awards program and its announcement presentation.The Winston-Salem, N.C-based company, which represents a number of Italian producers of equipment and consumables for natural stone fabrication, said its involvement in the competition reflects its commitment to the industry.

"It's our way of showing that we want to be a contributor to the overall stone industry community," said Steve Brown, advertising and marketing director for Salem Stone. "We are anxious to see the results of this innovative MIA-wide program."

Gary Distelhorst, executive vice president of MIA, noted that Salem Stones' participation will raise the profile of both the competition and the company. "As title sponsor, Salem Stone will have its name attached to all phases of the awards package, including a video presentation which will announce the winners in Las Vegas during StonExpo 2005. Their sponsorship allows MIA to ramp up this new awards competition and put it on a fast track to becoming an important part of our overall awards programming," Distelhorst said.

Entries in the competition, which will honor the industry's best advertising efforts, will be judged in Cleveland on August 23.Winners will be announced at the MIA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with StonExpo.

Although Salem Stone moved in to the stone business about three years ago, it has been a long-time supplier of equipment and consumables for the architectural glass industry. "Though we are new to the stone industry, our company has a 70-year heritage," said Brown.