The facility’s first concert, featuring country music legends Ronnie McDowell and T. Graham Brown, brought more than 500 – many of whom checked out the downtown area and its restaurants and shops, officials said.
Organizers of the concert approached conference center director Jennifer Bean about using the facility, and she noted the ballroom was converted to a 600-seat venue.
“It’s not a concert facility [but] I’d say you could look forward to more concerts in the future,” Bean said.
A different kind of event is planned for April 14 at the new facility when West Georgia Technical College Foundation hosts its “WGTC Celebrity Classic” Celebrity Gala to benefit student scholarships.
The $150-a-ticket event was to give attendees a chance to meet more than 40 celebrities ranging from NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, to country music star Colt Ford, and actor Christopher McDonald..
The conference center, which opened in January, includes a 7,672-square-foot ballroom, dressing rooms, business center, two pre-function areas, a 150-seat auditorium and three meeting rooms. It replaced a smaller city conference center built in 2002, though the old center still operates and complements the new center.
Since its January opening, the new center also has hosted trade shows for heating, air conditioning and food companies; a prom for an area private school; and a wedding. It has bookings for numerous other weddings and will host a high school graduation ceremony in coming months.
Bean has overseen the city’s conference center facilities since the first center opened 11 years ago inside a former cotton feed store on Church Street.
Stephanie Aylworth is manager of the city’s Main Street Program that works to preserve the historic area and help downtown property owners keep it operating as a vibrant business center. She said Main Street officials plan to use the conference center as a “selling point” for those interested in buying or refurbishing downtown property.
“It’s so unique for the area,” she said. “It will be part of the discussion.”
She added she hopes a hotel could someday open to adjoin the new conference center — possibly providing even more foot traffic in the historic area.
“A hotel is something we’d be interested in having.”