Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jekyll Convention Center Will Attract Business, Deal Says; Building Will Feature Glass Walls in a Signature Room Overlooking Ocean

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jekyll Convention Center Will Attract Business, Deal Says; Building Will Feature Glass Walls in a Signature Room Overlooking Ocean

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

JEKYLL ISLAND Gov. Nathan Deal traveled about as far as he could from the state capital and remain in Georgia Monday to visit a state project going exactly as planned.

In his first official visit to Jekyll Island as governor, Deal toured the $50 million, 128,000-square-foot convention center at the midpoint of its construction.

"I think it's a good $50 million investment for the state of Georgia,'' Deal said after a hard hat tour of the facility. "I'm going to encourage everybody I can to come here.''

The new convention center will go a long way toward making Jekyll Island a year-round resort and will bring back a lot of convention business that has been lost to other states, Deal said.

The Jekyll Island Authority itself is already selling the center to groups with little more to show that walls and a partially completed roof. Forty groups with 26,000 attendees combined have committed to use Jekyll Island's temporary convention center and the new center once it is open in summer 2012. That would amount to about 30,000 room nights in hotels, the Jekyll Island Authority said.

But in 2013, the picture improves as the new convention center already has more than 50 groups committed, amounting to about 38,000 room nights and 33,000 attendees, the authority said.

With Bob Krueger, chairman of the authority board at his side, Deal referred to drawings that showed the center's enormous 45,000-square-foot ballroom and exhibit hall with 10 smaller meeting rooms off its ends. With movable walls, the ballroom itself can be divided into eight big rooms.

The authority has said it believes it has an edge on other conference and convention businesses. A signature meeting room will have glass walls that overlook the ocean and Great Dunes Park. Part of the park, with a beach pavilion, is already done, but the rest is now covered with construction offices, equipment, and as Jeff Prine, the authority's representative on the project pointed out, a pile of rubble that was once the old convention center. …

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