Conference center has busy summer ahead

The Bridgeport News

May 9, 2013

By: Erin Beck

The Bridgeport Conference Center is increasing staff size in anticipation of a busy summer season full of weddings, culinary events and other gatherings.

“This time of year is when we’re coming out of our slower season and we start to ramp up staffing,” General Manager Scott Duarte said.

Several events already are planned for summer.

The seventh annual Mother’s Day Brunch will be held May 12; the Country Roads Cook-Off is planned for July 28; and a “Friends of Food” fundraising dinner for Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia will be held July 29.

The Bridgeport Farmers’ Market also will continue to utilize the conference center, even though the winter farmers market held at the center has concluded, according to board member Debbie Workman.

The next community dinner to benefit the volunteer organization is an outdoor picnic scheduled for June 5, according to Workman.

Having space available at the conference center during the winter helped the Bridgeport Farmers’ Market grow, Workman said.

“They are really a great partner for the farmers market and reaching our long-term goals,” she said.

Additional community dinners are in the works.

The conference center also serves companies throughout North Central West Virginia, in addition to local groups like the farmers market, according to Duarte.

It provides a variety of services for businesses, including video conferencing and catering.

Space is available for conferences, business meetings, seminars and workshops, among other types of events.

“In years past, those meetings were going to places in Morgantown and south of us and now we have a place here locally to get that type of training and host those meetings and hopefully have a lot of weddings,” Duarte said.

More than 50,000 visitors come to the conference center each year, providing an economic boost in surrounding areas, Duarte said.

“They’re staying in the hotels,” he said. “They’re eating in our restaurants. That’s all new revenue for the community.”

Duarte has been involved with the conference center since it opened in 2006.

“The city and Charles Pointe and the county were right on target with the decision to bring something like this to the area,” he said.

The conference center was developed as a public-private partnership between Charles Pointe developers and the city of Bridgeport, according to Duarte.

“Our business really has been growing, at least 10 percent or better each year,” he said.

Conference center staff works with event planners to create customized packages based on the event requirements, according to Duarte.

Cost varies depending on the final package.

“We try to be a place for just about everybody,” Duarte said.