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A bayou duo in Monroe and West Monroe

Courtesy Monroe-West Monroe CVB

The Twin Cities offer a wide variety of conference spaces and meeting venues, some that are more conventional and others that are anything but traditional.

No, it’s not those Twin Cities.

Known as the Twin Cities of Northeast Louisiana, Monroe and West Monroe are separated by the Ouachita River. On the east side is Monroe, a city of nearly 50,000 residents; on the west side sits West Monroe, with a population of about 20,000.

The two cities come together to create a place “where the people are extremely helpful and welcoming,” said Scott Bruscato, director of convention and sports marketing for the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau.

State associations, family reunions, sporting events and religious conventions make up most of the cities’ meeting business, Bruscato said.

True to the theme of twos, the cities have two traditional meeting facilities: the Monroe Civic Center and the recently renovated West Monroe Convention Center.

The Monroe Civic Center’s 46,000-square-foot arena has stadium seating for 7,600 people, a 2,000-seat theater, a 22,000-square-foot convention center that offers the option of 15 breakout rooms and a 14,000-square-foot conference hall that can also be divided into smaller spaces.

In the heart of West Monroe, the West Monroe Convention Center’s three conference halls can be used separately, combined into two smaller rooms or opened up to create one 13,000-square-foot hall. The center also has three meeting rooms, a boardroom, a kitchen and a lobby.

Three limited-service hotels with space for small meetings have opened in Monroe and West Monroe over the past 18 months, bringing the total number of guest rooms in Ouachita Parish to about 2,100, Bruscato said.

“Anytime we can add new meeting rooms and new hotel rooms, that’s a bonus,” Bruscato said. “It shows we’re a community that’s growing and thriving. We’ve added hotels on each side because we’re really prospering on both sides.”

For a true off-site experience in Monroe/West Monroe, the Louisiana Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge takes visitors onto the bayou. A large, u-shaped pier stretches over the bayou, home to cypress and tupelo trees and a variety of wildlife, alligators included. A resource center can accommodate about 150 people for a sit-down meeting or up to 250 for tours that include the chance to handle baby turtles and alligators.

“It’s just a natural Louisiana setting,” Bruscato said. “You’re not very far off the road, but you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.”