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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Ohio downtowns’ strong sense of place

Dublin, Lima and Springfield prove that towns with personalities and vibrant downtowns appeal to meeting planners.

All are near Ohio’s capital, Columbus. Dublin sits on Columbus’ northwest edge. Lima is 92 miles northwest. Springfield is 45 miles west of Columbus and 25 miles northeast of Dayton.

Dublin, like its namesake, is packed with Irish charm. Along the brick streets of its downtown, shops sell green scones, Celtic jewelry, woolens and Belleek china.

The city’s population of 41,000 swells to more than 100,000 during the annual Dublin Irish Festival, in its 26th year. For team building and after-hours fun, the Dublin CVB has a long list of Irish-inspired activities, from Irish Dance 101 to a Four-Leaf Clover Scavenger Hunt.

Like the country that inspires much of its mood, Dublin is known for golf. Its Muirfield Village Golf Club will host the President’s Cup, a series of competitions between a U.S. team and an international team — minus European countries — in early October.

Muirfield Village, named by Jack Nicklaus for the Scottish town where he won the first of his three British Opens, is the site each year of Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament and has hosted the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup. Another course that makes players feel like they have landed in the Emerald Isle is the Golf Club of Dublin, with a stone clubhouse, stacked rock walls, a ballroom for events and its own Irish pub.


When an arts and meeting center opened on the downtown campus of Clark State Community College in Springfield two years ago, local officials saw an opportunity to get into the meeting business.

The college’s Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center, combined with the adjacent 121-room Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Springfield; the nearby Heritage Center, a history museum that welcomes meetings and events; and a number of restaurants and shops gave the city the kind of walkable destination that many meeting planners seek for smaller conventions and conferences.

Springfield began assertively marketing its downtown as such, naming it the National Road Conference District in recognition of the nation’s first interstate highway, which runs through downtown Springfield.

The strategy has proven successful. Among the groups that have chosen Springfield for meetings are the Ohio Arts Presenters Network, with 400 attendees, and the Ohio Travel Association, which will bring a similar-size crowd to town next year.

“We had never hosted the OTA, and many didn’t think we had a shot at them, but we did,” said Chris Schuttee, director of the Greater Springfield CVB. “They were impressed with the facilities. What won them over was proximity. They’re close together yet able to move freely when not in meetings.”