The Visit Stillwater team, which serves as Stillwater’s destination marketing and management organization and an integrated community development engine, can summarize our enthusiasm for a convention center development in Stillwater with two words - Game Changer!
The construction of a convention center, particularly with an attached hotel and parking garage, will fill a long-needed void in Stillwater’s visitor development efforts. Over the past twenty-five years, we have seen the number of hotel properties grow from 9 to 19. However, very little meeting space has been included in the developments.
The primary purpose of a convention center is to provide a venue to host out-of-town visitors who attend conventions, tradeshows, meetings, reunions, retreats, and even sporting events.
Visitors to a convention center spend money on transportation, lodging, dining, entertainment, and retail shopping that generates sales and visitor/lodging tax revenue. Therefore, a convention center will generate millions of dollars in direct spending within the local economy making it an important economic engine.
The additional business created as a result of a convention center includes caterers, food trucks, audiovisual providers, copy services, entertainers and entertainment venues, florists, formal wear shops, photographers, plaques and trophy companies, signs and banners printers, specialty gifts shops and companies, transportation providers, and more.
Additionally, a convention center can serve as more than a venue for large meetings and events. It can also serve as one of the community's premier gathering places where local meetings, banquets, and educational, cultural, faith-based, commercial, and social functions are held.
Because we have never been able to completely immerse ourselves into the meetings market, we have not yet been on the radar for numerous state, regional, and national events. The addition of a convention center will open the door to many different types of events that will attract visitors quite likely from around the world as the home of Oklahoma State University and businesses with international divisions and ties.
The positive economic impact of a convention center circulates throughout the community. A local musician is very likely to get substantially more gigs as a result of an increase in locally held meetings and conventions. The local musician now has the extra income to put in landscaping at their home. The landscaper can now afford the additional insurance they have wanted for their equipment. The insurance agent now buys a new vehicle from a local automobile dealer. And the local dealer can donate more to local charities. And the local charity needs a location for an upcoming fund-raiser so we are now back to the convention center.
Stillwater’s best assets lie with its people and the atmosphere they create for residents and visitors alike. However, brick-and-mortar assets are often the most effective in attracting visitors to a destination.
For the most current and up-to-date information regarding the Stillwater hospitality industry, go to VisitStillwater.org, “Like” Visit Stillwater on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @VisitStillwater. Cristy Morrison, Visit Stillwater President and CEO, can be reached at Cristy@VisitStillwater.org or by calling 405-743-3697.