Insight on Business

May 2014

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10 | I nsIgh t • M a y 2 0 14 w w w . i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m UP FRONT R e g i o n a l R o u n d u p » 1 1 F a c e T i m e » 1 5 C o n n e c t i o n s » 1 8 "We've been at some national trade shows and people said they were interested in coming to Green Bay, but we didn't have the space to accommodate them." – Brad Toll, president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau t h e C I t y of g r e e n Bay I s definitely hoping bigger is better. Construction crews began work late last year to expand the KI Convention Center with the goal of attracting larger gatherings and making green Bay a contender for national conventions. e $23 million expansion is adding 30,700 square feet of new meeting space, including a new ballroom. When work is done in June 2015, the KI will have nearly 80,000 square feet of meeting space and will be able to accommodate groups of up to 3,000 people, says Brad toll, president and Ceo of the greater green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We do a great job with regional events, but we heard for years that we weren't big enough and we lost out on some state groups that simply outgrew our space," he says. "e expansion will allow us to serve our current customers, win back the ones we lost, and go out and recruit new ones." e center already has recruited its first new national convention – B y M a r y B e t h M a t z e k Meeting space Larger KI Center will be ready to welcome more guests in June 2015 the groundwater Protection Council, which is based in oklahoma City, will hold its national convention in green Bay in september 2016. Conventions are big business as attendees fill hotel rooms, put gas in their vehicles, go out to eat, and shop. With the KI twice as large, an estimated 70,000 additional visitors will come to green Bay annually, creating 450 jobs and $25 million in annual economic impact, says harry Maier, chair of the green Bay redevelopment authority. e bulk of the project is being funded by city-issued bonds with Brown County, the state of Wisconsin and the furniture maker KI also contributing funds, he adds. as part of the expansion, a 24,500-square-foot ballroom and three new meeting rooms will be added. toll says the ballroom is important because it will provide a separate space where attendees can eat instead of having to use the main expo hall as they do now. "right now, if we serve a lunch, we have to turn over the space quickly if we need it for meeting space or as an area for exhibits," he says. "you need to put down different flooring, put up pipe and drape. By having this separate ballroom, we will have more options of how the space is used." e expansion will be built over adams street and the Clarion hotel's parking lot. Maier says the Clarion will be connected to the convention center P roponents of a Fox Cities Exhibition Center connected to the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel are moving forward to make the project happen despite a few setbacks, including an initial rejection of the draft lease agreement by the hotel's owner. The update to the feasibility study was one of the components needed to move forward, says Karen Harkness, director of community development of the City of Appleton. The Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau funded an update to the market analysis section of the feasibility study and presented findings and recommendations to the public in late April. Supporters also are looking at an alternative funding structure for the project, Harkness says. "We need to have patience," Harkness says. "There are a lot of moving parts with this economic development project. It certainly is an economic benefit for the community, and things are moving forward." For more on convention growth in the New North, see p. 29. "The expansion will allow us to serve our current customers, win back the ones we lost, and go out and recruit new ones." – B r a d To l l, p re s i d e nt a n d C E O o f t h e G re ate r G re e n B ay Co nve nt i o n & Vi s i to r s B u re a u Fox Cities makes progress on expo plan

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