Fort Wayne lures long-time conventions from Indy

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Fort Wayne's expanded convention center and a planned downtown hotel are proving attractive to conventions, including at least four events long held in Indianapolis.

The Grand Wayne Center said six new conventions will be held starting this fall, including events by the Indiana Music Educators Association, the Indiana Library Federation, the Hoosier Hospitality Conference and Indiana Farm Bureau. All four groups had previously conducted their conventions in Indianapolis.

The Indiana Music Educators Association, which draws about 3,500 people to its annual convention, agreed to move its event from Indianapolis for the first time. It’ll take place in Fort Wayne in January 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Music Educators President Barbara Resch said the group agreed to a three-year booking to give Fort Wayne a fair chance to prove it could host such a large conference. She said lower costs and a downtown Courtyard by Marriott hotel that's expected to open in 2010 were key factors in the group's decision.

The Indiana Farm Bureau had long held its annual convention in Indianapolis before moving it to Evansville last year due to construction on the expanded Indiana Convention Center. This year, the event will take place Nov. 19-21 in Fort Wayne and is expected to draw 1,700 people.

The Indiana Library Federation expects attendance of about 1,200 at its Oct. 18-20 conference in Fort Wayne. It has conducted the event in Indianapolis for the past 20 years.

The Hoosier Hospitality Conference, scheduled for March 16-17, 2010, also is meeting outside of Indianapolis for the first time.

The Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the four events will have an economic impact of $5.9 million.


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