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Courtesy Sharonville Convention Center

Expanded Sharonville center earns LEED certification

The Sharonville Convention Center did more than double in size a year ago. The suburban Cincinnati meeting venue also earned LEED Silver certification.

To become LEED certified, the convention center took measures that allow it to operate more efficiently and sustainably. For example, by using a design that is energy efficient, the center is saving almost $7,000 each year in lighting costs and $38,760 in heating and air conditioning costs.

The center also reduced its water consumption by more than 40 percent by adding metered restroom fixtures, diverted 75 percent of the waste created by the expansion project from the landfill by using a demolition waste management program, and repurposed and reused many existing interior elements of the center. The center has started a recycling program, and improved its storm-water quality.

Located 15 miles north of Cincinnati off interstates 75 and 275, the Sharonville center has 65,000 square feet of meeting space in as many as 19 meeting rooms. When it expanded, a 14,000-square-foot ballroom, another 20,000 square feet of exhibit space and 8,000 square feet of breakout space were added.

The center is near some 3,000 hotel rooms, including the 257 guest rooms at the Crowne Plaza Cincinnati North, across from the center.

“We’re an alternative for groups ranging in size from 200 to 2,000. That’s our sweet spot for a group,” said Jim Downton, executive director of the convention center. “Compare that to downtown Cincinnati, where 15 to 20,000 people may meet.”

As home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, the Cincinnati area sees a good deal of corporate meeting business. “We do significant business in that niche because of strong corporate support,” said Downton. “We do many events for local companies like Procter and Gamble, Kroger, Fifth Third Bank.”


Get a breath of fresh air at state lodges
Five Ohio state park lodges in central and northern Ohio are ideal for small groups.

“Our facilities aren’t standard downtown hotels. We’re a little remote with a tranquil setting but with the amenities of a full-service hotel,” said Dianna Rom, regional director of sales for Ohio State Park Resorts. “You can have a meeting room with a lake view or one with a patio that you step out onto for a breath of fresh air. It presents a whole new dimension to meetings; not just four walls and a door. You open your mind for creativity.”

Lodges are an easy drive from major cities in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

“We have everything from a 31-room Tudor manor for small groups, to a large resort and lodge right on Lake Erie. We serve 10 to 400 people. When you’re on our property you’re the No. 1 group, not one of 10 groups. You’re the main thing we pay attention to,” said Rom.

With their emphasis on the outdoors, groups find plenty of after-hours activities. Some parks have golf courses; others have lakes. Pools and hiking trails welcome workouts.

The parks also partner with team-building firms to tailor activities for groups. For example, when Dominion Gas employees met at one park, they split into teams and competed in a treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices.

“The company had created a new logo,” said Rom. “We hid foam large parts of the logo in various areas of the park. Team members had to find and assemble them, like a puzzle, into the finished, life-size logo.”