Home Blogs Opinion Convention Center hotel boon to local business

Convention Center hotel boon to local business

| Print |  Email
Opinion
Thursday, August 15, 2013

 

08.15.13 Blog ShetterlyBY KEVIN SHETTERLY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

This past January I was contacted by a representative of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT).  He was scouting cities for their annual convention, and Portland was high on the list.  In 2011 this event had 5,023 attendees and booked 1,200 rooms.  My company, Stagecraft Industries, could benefit greatly by this opportunity to showcase our facility to the visiting members of our industry.  After his visit, however, I heard that although he really liked our convention center, our restaurants, the city and its people, due to the absence of a ‘headquarter hotel’, USITT had decided to take the convention to Salt Lake City. 

This disappointment inspired me to investigate the issue, which has been a problem for the entire 23 years since the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) opened. 

According to Metro, Portland lost 30 such conventions in 2011 for lack of a headquarter hotel.  A survey of national convention organizers found that they were 79% more likely to bring their business to the OCC with an adjacent convention center hotel, as Portland is a highly attractive convention and travel destination. 

Metro projects that a headquarter hotel could attract 5 to 10 new national conventions each year, increase convention related tourism spending by $200 million per year, and generate $5.6 million in new state tax revenues and $4.7 million in new local tax revenues annually. 

The study also indicates that a person attending a conference spends an average of $333.00 per day.  The revenue generated by conventions is similar to that generated by tourism, with very little impact on the infrastructure, and a lot of dollars flowing into the regional economy. 

Today, a funding plan for the proposed hotel goes before the Metro Council. The regional government has pledged $10 million of the estimated $197.5 million needed to build the hotel through reserves, loans and lottery funds.  Because of this, there is scrutiny from watchdog groups. The opposition seems to be most worried about the taxpayer burden, because if the cost projections are not accurate, the public would be on the hook.  But if $197.5 million seems expensive for a 600-room hotel, the projections indicate this would be beneficial for Portland’s economy and workforce.  The hotel, for example, would abide by the rules of FOTA, the First Opportunity Target Area, an employment recruitment policy that offers job opportunities to those “living in and around the facility."

Of course, if the numbers pencil out, why not simply put the hotel project out to bid?  We don’t have to look far for a case study, as Spokane is breaking ground on a hotel funded by private developers next to their convention center.

I believe having a headquarters hotel for the convention center is good for the city and the state. Holding the USITT convention in Portland certainly would have been beneficial for my company. 

Kevin Shetterly is the sales manager for Stagecraft Industries.

Oregon Business accepts op-ed on topics relevant to the state’s business community. See op-ed submission guidelines here.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Is it truly viable?Guest 2013-08-15 22:05:23
I am having a bit of problem with this project. If the hotel project was viable from a bankers point of view, commercial financing would be easily obtainable. If the city or state wished to join a consortium to loan the money at market based interest to be paid back like a mortgage, I would not have a problem with this. In the end this is not a viable project without the public purse being tapped - and possibly tapped again and again to keep it alive. I also have problems with public financing of sporting venues, teams, etc. The money that is in play is not only Portland money, but money from all Oregon taxpayers.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Indeed!Guest 2013-08-15 22:15:34
As a road warrior who attends or exhibits at over 10 national (no regional) tradeshows per year this article really hit home and is spot on. I can name at least 3 national shows that I am very well connected with as an exhibitor and the show management always has the same argument about Portland: NO HQ hotel = NO conference/expo here. Although I would be content riding rail to a facility (as I often do for shows in Chicago, New York, San Diego) that is NOT currently normal across the industry.

I brag about our town all the time and would love to see more of my associates be able to travel here and spend their corporate travel budgets in our city for a change.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 GuestGuest 2013-08-16 15:01:40
FYI - Salt Lake City does NOT have a HQ hotel either.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #4 SLCGuest 2013-08-16 15:25:14
The large Marriott across the street doesn't count?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

Fly Zone

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

The black soldier fly’s larvae are among the most ravenous and least picky eaters on earth.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

Water World

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS