In this era of renewed attention to the bottom line, Indianapolis has a chance to "make hay while it's raining."
That's the take of Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association spokesman Bill Benner. The city can shine in tough times. "I think Indianapolis, given its central location, is ideally situated to pitch business meetings in the most positive light," Benner said.
Dow's right about one thing: the importance of business meetings, both nationally and in Indianapolis. Of the $620 million spent here by visitors last year, $434 million was tied to business meetings . . .
This is not the time to cut back spending at the Convention & Visitors Association. The budget was trimmed by about $400,000 in 2008 and is flat this year.
Mayor Greg Ballard's administration is grappling with the two-fisted punch of an economic downturn and a huge shortfall in the Capital Improvement Board's budget. Much of the Convention & Visitors Association money flows through the CIB . . ,
More importantly, the city's just a little more than a year away from nearly doubling the size of the Indiana Convention Center and adding nearly 1,600 hotel rooms in the J.W. Marriott complex. As nice as it will be, that space won't sell itself.
The additional space means the number of meetings booked each year has to rise to 770 from 425 and the number of room-nights sold has to jump to 850,000 from 500,000 . . .
Don't we want to open the door when opportunity knocks?
The appropriate question is not whether "we want to open the door" but whether the businesses which have been handed this golden opportunity courtesy of the taxpayers of this community want to open that door. Hey, Ketz, did you forget about the more than $200 million taxpayers have invested in the convention center expansion? Or the $65 million taxpayers invested in the Marriott? Or how about the $20 million we plopped down on the Conrad Hilton? That's in addition to the tens of millions the CIB has appropriated to the ICVA over the last several years. I don't expect the taxpayers to pay for marketing my business, and I don't think it is fair that a handful of hotels which reap the vast majority of the benefit from the convention business expect us to pay to market their businesses. Every one of those convention hotels has a full-time staff whose job it is to market their hotels. Start selling. We've done our fair share, Ketz. Perhaps you should have lunch with an ordinary taxpayer every now and again to gain a better perspective.