Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Energy Boost: Industry Drives State's Convention Business Upswing

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Energy Boost: Industry Drives State's Convention Business Upswing

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The energy industry has helped push Oklahoma ahead of a nationwide upward trend in corporate meeting traffic, officials from state convention and visitors bureaus said Thursday.

"Because Oklahoma City and Tulsa have risen as giants in the energy industry again, it's helping to drive corporate travel and conferences," said Ray Hoyt, senior vice president of the VisitTulsa organization.

"When you look at companies like Williams, which just acquired another company and is growing by leaps and bounds, or your Oneoks, which are doing great things with new companies, or Matrix, which just acquired another business as well, you see a lot of activity in that sector," he said. "It's making an impact."

A recent study by the Convention Industry Council revealed a strong recession recovery between 2009 and 2012, with a 10-percent increase in the number of meeting participants at conferences, trade shows and the like across the nation. Of the 1.83 million events counted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in the study period, 1.3 million were classified as corporate or business meetings.

Those events help stimulate job growth and contribute directly to federal, state and municipal tax revenue. The study found an 8.3- percent increase in jobs creation, 6.4-percent boost in direct spending and 9.6-percent increase in tax collections related to industry activity. Direct spending accounts for about $280 billion a year, about half of which is in travel expenses, according to the executive summary.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers study didn't identify the causes of the increased activity, but local industry experts had a few ideas.

"Consider that we helped create the DUG Midcontinent Conference for the energy industry, which has been very successful," Hoyt said, adding that the next DUG event is scheduled in Oklahoma City in February. "That's totally new business that's been generated around the energy industry.

"We're finding that our pipeline is filling up and we're working on events with regional and national exposure," he said. …

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