The Bridgeport News
Thursday, August 27, 2009
by Diane Davis
is growing, contributing to the economic growth of the North Central West
Virginia region, officials indicate.
“There are a lot of ways to measure growth in our business,”
said Scott Duarte. He is general manager for the Bridgeport Conference Center
and director of hospitality of Genesis Partners, the development company for
“We can count groups or count events. We have groups come in for a couple of days
and have several events. We have had 200
different groups at the Bridgeport conference
center since January,” Duarte
“We average 50 to 80 events per month; over 400 so far this
year. Of these, we have a mix of
approximately 60 percent business or government to 40 percent social events
such as wedding receptions.”
sees a lot of repeat business.
“We try our best to do a good job to keep them happy,” Duarte said.
“We continue doing better guest services and care. I have had clients tell me that our food was
better than normal ‘conference food,’” Duarte
The West Virginia Education Department, the West Virginia
Library Commission, the State Treasurer’s office, the Division of Corrections,
the Department of Education and Arts, Criminal Justice Services, and the
supreme Court are among the sate agencies that have utilized the center during
the past few months.
“Location plays a part in drawing these agencies,” Duarte said. “It is not so much being situated centrally
between Charleston and Morgantown, as it is being near the location
of the center of the population. … it is
a nice meeting place with great access.”
is one of the premier meeting facilities in this part of the state, if not the
entire state, according to Tim Brady, director of the Greater Bridgeport Convention
and Visitors Bureau.
“To have something like the center that creates a destination
for business and convention business drives a good bit of hotel/motel business
“But what people forget is that the economic impact from
this business goes two or three layers deep.
It spills over into other businesses in the area,” Brady said.
“People don’t just come and spend money on the conference
center and motel room. They also buy
gasoline, patronize retail business.
This is new money that comes into the area, is recycled and creates
further economic impact.”
There are also people employed as a result of the economic
impact of the travel, tourism and conference business, he said.
“When they built the Bridgeport
it was the intent of Bridgeport City Council to create a destination point for
this section of Harrison County,” said Keith Boggs, finance director for the
city of Bridgeport.
“We wanted to put ‘heads in beds.’ There wasn’t much in this area to bring
people here as a destination. We think
we have achieved this objective,” Boggs said.
“There is a Wingate by Wyndham and a Microtel by the
center. Construction will begin on a new
Holiday Inn Express next week.
“When they put in the hotel and motel tax and increased it,
it was to pay off the conference center,” Boggs said.
Bridgeport collected almost
$275,000 in hotel and motel taxes for all the motels and hotels in Bridgeport last
year. Fifty percent is used for the
Greater Bridgeport Convention and Visitors Bureau. And a lot of that money is going to pay down
the conference center, Boggs said.
is trying to attract new business to its facility.
“There is a lot of room to grow,” Duarte said.
“We are going after it every day.”
One of the new services being offered to conference guests
is video conferencing.
“This is growing in our area for international or national
business. Business and government is
cutting back on travel, getting meetings done by video conferencing,” Duarte said.
also has the capacity to offer simultaneous wireless Internet service to 275
people, he said.
is limited on space. It can accommodate
only certain size groups.
“We can accommodate up to 350 people in a room,” Duarte
“Perhaps in the future we can increase that.”