Vidalia facility offers convention center options

Published 12:48 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

With steamboat-inspired architecture and stunning river vistas, the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center offers a unique alternative to the all-to-common, fluorescent light-filled meeting space.

The $5.2 million center opened in August and has stayed busy since day one, Events Coordinator Jenny Branton said.

“We get a lot of traffic here at the center,” she said Friday evening. “We just had a political rally and the garden club is setting up as we speak.”

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Located only a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River, the center boasts 9,000 square feet of dividable meeting space. A window-filled concourse runs the length of the area, providing a panoramic view of the bluffs and the river.

“Every meeting room has a view of the river,” she said. “It’s the view that sets us apart.”

With an 11,000 square foot addition under way, the center will be able to share that view with a lot more guests.

“After the second phase, we will have a total of about 36,000 square feet,” Branton said.

“This will add three more meeting rooms, offices and the Jim Bowie Museum.”

The addition will also feature showers, storage space and will be a certified Red Cross evacuation shelter.

“We hope to have offices moved to the addition by mid October,” she said. “The framing is already complete.”

The cost for the second phase is set at $1.7 million, and will — like the first phase — be funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We’ve had a lot of people come to look at the building,” she said. “We’re always happy to give tours.”

The facility also houses the Louisiana Welcome Center, which operates as a separate entity from the convention center. The welcome center provides brochures and maps to travelers and also features a small theatre.

“They get a lot of people coming in,” she said. “In fact, someone just stopped by to get some information about moving to the area.”