Appleton Expo Center Still Has Support - WBAY

Appleton Expo Center Still Has Support

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Appleton -

As the KI Convention Center expansion moves forward the city of Appleton is working to increase it's annual convention dollars as well.

Last year tourists spent a little over 5.5 million dollars in Green Bay.

Tourism officials estimate convention business made up about 25 percent of that total.

Appleton is looking to capitalize on some of that money by creating their own convention center.

An economic impact analysis done by the city estimates a convention center could bring in additional 10 million dollars each year.

In a downtown with so much to offer, Appleton's push for an expo center to host large conventions is still a work in progress.

Supporters say millions of dollars a year in visitor spending is at stake.

"We have so much in our downtown and that is the one thing we're missing is part of that exposition center space and meeting planners tell us that. We have a convention ready downtown we just don't have enough room to put them," said Pam Seidl, Executive Director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

The city's budget has set aside 3.4 million for the project, even though alderman Joe Martin says plenty of hurdles exist.

This includes the land acquisition for the current site, directly behind the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

Martin said, "Right now the money's in the budget, it's there to be used, but we need to start moving this forward and we're done talking."

At the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau business and political leaders held a meeting on the issue Thursday afternoon.

As a result an updated market study will be conducted after the first of the year.

It should take two to three months to complete. 

Seidl said, "The initial feasibility study was done before 2008, before the economic downturn. The meetings business has come back but it potentially has changed. We want to know if there's been changes, if there's impacts from a competitive nature. So the bureau's board has committed the funds to update that section of the feasibility study."

So far there's no timetable for breaking ground.

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