In a weak economy, as organizations lean toward no-nonsense meetings, venues such as the Roberts Centre in Clinton County, Ohio, have added appeal.
The Roberts Centre is in a rural area but is easily reached, within an hour’s drive of Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus, next to Interstate 71.
The Roberts Centre is near a small town but it is not a small venue, with 80,000 square feet of meeting space that can be adapted for uses that range from conventions and exhibitions to concerts. Free parking and nonunion staff help keep prices down.
An adjacent 121-room Holiday Inn provides housing, and a Max & Erma’s is on site.
The center attracts its share of large meetings, including the International Saw Expo, the Ohio Library Council’s Southwest Chapter conference, a Creative Memories conference and the Ohio Valley Military Show.
“The Roberts Centre can hold up to 5,000 people, and obviously, the one hotel can’t handle all that,” said Debbie Stamper of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But we have 450 rooms in Wilmington, just six miles down the road, and other hotels along the interstate.”
When meeting groups use multiple hotels, the CVB can arrange shuttle service.
Downtown Wilmington has numerous shops, artists’ studios and restaurants for free-time enjoyment. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places; large murals that depict a farmers market and a 1918 hot-air-balloon launch are colorful pictures of its past.
Two pieces of Wilmington’s history have possibilities as meeting and event venues. Wilmington College, founded by the Quakers, has meeting space for up to 200. The college’s Peace Resource Center has a collection of artifacts from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and programs to promote peace education.
The 750-seat Murphy Theatre can also host groups. In its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, the Murphy was bigger and grander than anything else in the small town. Charles Webb Murphy, owner of the Chicago Cubs, built the theater as a tribute to Wilmington, his hometown, with no expense spared. The gilded glory created by a team of international craftsmen is still evident.
For those who’d like to stretch their legs after a day in a boardroom chair, the county’s rails-to-trails project has created five miles of trails from abandoned railroad beds.
Clinton County Convention
and Visitors Bureau