|By Dan Carden, The Times, Munster,
Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
January 30, 2010 - --INDIANAPOLIS -- The founder of White Lodging, the Merrillville-based developer of a $425 million Indianapolis hotel project, will give $5.4 million over the next three years to the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association to promote Indianapolis as a convention and tourism destination.
Crown Point billionaire Dean White presented the grant through the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation Thursday at the association's annual meeting in Indianapolis.
White Lodging is developer of a 1,625-room four-hotel project under construction at Marriott Place in downtown Indianapolis, including the blue glass sheathed 1,005-room J.W. Marriott scheduled to open in Feb. 2011. The three other Marriott Place hotels open next month.
Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association President Don Welsh said the organization was grateful for the gift.
"As we expand the Indiana Convention Center and our hospitality product and become a Tier One destination, these funds are absolutely critical," Welsh said.
Bruce White, chairman and CEO of White Lodging, said the company is proud to have been operating in downtown Indianapolis for more than 20 years.
"This grant underscores our faith in the positive direction Indianapolis is on, and we believe these funds will enable the city and the ICVA to sustain and build up the momentum that's been created," White said.
Indianapolis currently attracts 22 million visitors a year who contribute $3.56 billion to the city's economy.
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