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New Convention Centers

New and improved, bigger and better, renovated and refreshed: Convention centers, much like any other business, have to stay in front of their clients’ needs to stay competitive in the meeting and event industry. But every city’s needs are different. One has just opened its first conference center with 18,000 square feet of function space while another is again expanding what is already one of the West Coast’s largest convention centers.

Here are five new or expanded meeting facilities that planners should know about.


Victoria College Conference and Education Center

Victoria, Texas

After nearly two years of construction, the Victoria College Conference and Education Center officially opened its doors June 1 and is already hosting events.

The center, along with the neighboring Industrial Training Center, make up the school’s Emerging Technology Campus. The push for the satellite campus started in 2010 when community leaders and local officials realized the need for facilities to serve the area’s ongoing oil and gas boom, both for companies and to train the workforce, said Tempi McLeod, manager of the Emerging Technology Campus for Victoria College.

Soon after, the city tax district donated 16 acres in the industrial park for the complex, voters approved a tax to raise $22 million for the project, and construction began in July 2013.

The IACC-certified conference center has 15 meeting spaces ranging from boardrooms for a half a dozen people to the 6,800-square-foot Meeting Hall, which can seat groups of 500 for banquets. The flexible hall can be divided into four smaller rooms of about 1,680 square feet each. The center also offers a variety of conference rooms and classrooms, including a tiered classroom with fixed seating for 120 people, as well as a full catering kitchen.

Before the center opened its doors, it had already booked its first event — the Bridges to Success Summit in October — and bookings have been coming in ever since. The center recently hosted a job fair for 450 people, as well as a baby expo.


KI Convention Center

Green Bay, Wisconsin

When the KI Convention Center expansion wraps up later this summer, the $19 million project will have doubled the Green Bay convention center from about 40,000 square feet to nearly 80,000 square feet.

Construction began in December and is expected to be complete in September, said Beth Ropson, director of sales for the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitor Bureau. The expansion will include a 25,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom that can be configured into as many as eight smaller ballrooms. Three rooms ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 square feet will overlook the Fox River. The first-story floor plan with 35,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space will remain almost the same.

City officials recognized the need to expand the city-owned convention center, Ropson said. Groups that had been coming to Green Bay were outgrowing the center, or the city was missing out on events “that we never could host because of our size,” she said.

Already, the expansion will allow the Midwest Food Processors Association to return its regional conference to Green Bay in December, something organizers had been wanting to do but couldn’t because of space limitations.

“Even before it’s open, we’re finding success in the expansion,” Ropson said.

The project will connect the convention center with an existing hotel that will reopen as a 135-room Hampton Inn. The 241-room Hyatt on Main, which is also connected, manages the convention center.