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Springfield will be the site for two conventions this summer that are expected to bring about 9,000 people to the city. KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson has this story on how this is expected to impact the Springfield economy.
The events are both district conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses; the convention June 20-23 is for Spanish-speaking members, and the July 4-7 meetings are for those who speak English. According to a release from the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, visitors attending these conferences are expected to spend about $2.25 million during their stay in Springfield.
The bureau estimates that will ring in about $84,000 in city sales taxes and hotel taxes, and about $28,000 in county taxes.
Conventions of this size are a gold star for economic development, and they’re usually the result of a behind-the-scenes bidding competition.
According to Tracy Kimberlin, president of the Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the bureau worked with these groups for about two years before securing the deal. Kimberlin said the key to bringing more convention groups to Springfield is the ability to respond to a group’s specific needs.
“For example, in this case, they just needed one facility. They didn’t need breakout rooms and things of that nature—but they needed a large facility. And there were a couple of facilities in town that could accommodate them. And we negotiated with Missouri State and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and were able to secure the JQH Arena,” he said.
Kimberlin said one thing that sometimes makes Springfield less attractive to convention and conference groups is that the city doesn’t have a true “convention center.”
“We have the Expo Center, which is an exhibit hall, which is, in effect, one element of a convention complex. But we don’t have the whole complex. And that puts us at a big disadvantage when it comes to bidding on certain convention groups,” Kimberlin said.
So, he says, in trying to attract more convention groups in the future, Springfield has to take inventory of its assets, then pinpoint which specific groups are most likely to benefit from those assets.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Davidson.