Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Conference center officials: This means business

May 18, 2011 6:57 PM
Ragan Robinson

Gastonia’s city manager says the first event to contract with the Gastonia Conference Center — to the tune of $42,000 — is exactly the kind of affair the city wanted.

“We’re still five months from opening and they’re booking quality events,” said Jim Palenick.

Wednesday, the center’s manager and director of sales presented him a signed agreement for a bridal show to be produced by At Your Best Special Events.

The show is scheduled for April 20, 2012. Because it is a three-day affair, sales director Carol Queen says it should bring business to downtown restaurants as well as hotels and shops in Gastonia.

She estimates the occasion could attract 500 to 600 over the weekend.

Queen says the show itself could also open doors for companies such as florists and caterers that supply wedding services.

“Local vendors may capture events that would have gone to Charlotte,” she said.

Such events attract brides-to-be, who are prepared to spend money, according to Palenick.

Catered meals for the show’s vendors will also mean business going directly to some local operations, says Tony Swainey, the general manager for the conference center.

Eleven Gaston-area caterers have already contracted to provide food for conference center events, he said.

Swainey said it’s rare for an unfinished building to have bookings. He expects having a marketing and sales team in place early will help bring in events more quickly when the center opens in the fall.

Swainey says the staff has 18 proposals for different events. He anticipates landing more than half of them.

Among the interested parties are individuals who have celebrations to host, corporations who need training space, nonprofits and fraternal groups.

“It helps that there was a desperate need,” Swainey said.

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