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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Of suburbs and statelines

Photo courtesy Hurst Conference Center

The opening of the Gastonia Conference Center, less than 30 minutes from Charlotte, N.C., and even closer to that city’s international airport, came in November after nearly a quarter-century of discussion.

Meets high standards

Built to the standards of the International Association of Conference Centers and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-Gold, it is considered the anchor of the former mill town’s downtown revitalization. The center has 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

“It has given a green light to other small business to move in. There is a buzz developing,” said Kristin Kurie, president of the Wilderman Group, which manages the facility.

The center’s layout includes a 5,000-square-foot ballroom, five meeting rooms and a 2,425-square-foot gallery.

Its sustainable and technological features will appeal to Charlotte businesses and the center will likely play a role when the Democratic National Convention comes to Charlotte next year, Kurie says.

As it has with the other conference center it manages in Richmond Hill, Ga., near Savannah, the Wilderman Group has partnered with local businesses, including 11 local caterers. The center’s team is also all local, said Kurie.

Having an event in Gastonia impacts the local economy. 
“You are supporting area business, and that is comforting to people in the current economic climate,” Kurie said.

For now, there is no adjacent hotel, although a nearby parking lot could be used as a site, said Kurie. Local limited-service hotel chains, 10 minutes away, have agreed to run shuttles to the center as needed.