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Dayton Convention Center Feeling Economic Pinch as Groups
Cut Back on Convention and Conference Spending

By Joanne Huist Smith, Dayton Daily News, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 28, 2009--DAYTON -- The sluggish economy has forced some organizations to cut convention and conference spending at the Dayton Convention Center, but it also may be the force that draws new events downtown.

"We're in a transition year, like so many others, as we realign our business with the current state of the economy," Bart Shaw, director of the convention center said.

The convention center's annual gross revenue of $3.2 million has remained relatively flat over the past five years, but Shaw said 2009 is presenting challenges. The convention center hosted 158 mostly, multi-day events in 2008. There are 94 confirmed events booked for 2009, with an additional 10 expected to be added before the end of the year.

That total isn't far off the 112 booked in 2007, but other factors also are eating away at the convention center's bottom line.

No major conventions have been canceled, but several local events, including Kettering Medical Center's annual Christmas party for some 6,000 guests, won't be hosted at the convention center this year. Other groups are cutting convention meal costs or limiting other services, Shaw said.

The loss of parking patrons at the Transportation Center, including the relocation of CareSource employee parking to the municipal garage on Monument Avenue, will take $165,000 from the convention center's budget by year end.

City records project a $200,000 shortfall for the convention center this year. That budget hole will be plugged by a transfer from the convention center's $500,000 capital reserve fund, surplus revenue from prior years, Shaw said.

Convention center expenses also have been shaved. Three unfilled staff positions will remain vacant.

Shaw said it's not enough to cut expenses. He and a group of community partners hope to attract new events to the convention center by tapping into community resources through the "Host it at Home" campaign. The effort is designed to generate event leads from local professional associations, religious groups and sports/hobby clubs.

Organizations will benefit from low-cost, close-to-home services offered by the Dayton Convention Center. The community benefits from the economic spinoff that visitors bring to the area, Shaw said.

To learn more about the benefits of holding events in Dayton or to send an event lead to the "Host it at Home" visit: www.daytonhostitathome.com.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2362 or josmith@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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To see more of the Dayton Daily News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.daytondailynews.com .

Copyright (c) 2009, Dayton Daily News, Ohio

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