Convention shows impact of center

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 4, 2003

Did it take you a little longer to get a table at your regular lunch haunt Wednesday? More than 300 people are in town this week for the Lookin’ to the Future Conference, a statewide continuing education meeting for behavioral teachers.

This is the second time the conference has been held in Natchez, and organizers say that’s because of the treatment they received last year.

That enthusiasm for the community speaks well of the efforts of our local tourism industry, but the impact the conference will have on Natchez shows how much a group like this can bring to our economy.

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When the convention center &045; a long-discussed project &045; was in its planning stages, many people complained about the cost compared to the financial return.

It’s true that a convention center on its own does not really make money, but the economic impact of more than 300 people at one time in the community certainly does &045; through lodging and restaurant tax revenue as well as sales tax. The conference is expected to generate about $500,000 in purchases through hotel, restaurant, and shopping center sales &045; and that’s all new money being spent in our community from out-of-town visitors.

We hope our city’s tourism department has a strategic plan to keep attracting these large, multi-day conventions as word of our year-old convention center spreads.

And as for the rest of us elbowing around for a seat at downtown lunch spots, we encourage everyone to be kind and courteous to these visitors.