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Cities Firing on All Cylinders

Posted on June 04, 2015

Indianapolis Georgia St.Fort Wayne, IN, has enjoyed a steady influx of visitors since the city expanded its Grand Wayne Convention Center in 2005. The extension has not only made the venue a more desirable destination for outside meeting planners looking for an affordable option that can accommodate a sizable group, but has helped stoke development in the area -- e.g., the building of new retail, restaurants, and riverfront entertainment options -- which has helped lure locals to downtown in the process.

To keep this momentum going, talk began a few years ago about expanding the convention center even further. The city reached out to Hunden Strategic Partners (HSP), a Chicago-based real estate consultancy that analyzes whether such large-scale building projects make sense, taking into account the flow of people, available services and amenities, market conditions, and competition.

But HSP came back with a surprising response: not so fast. "We told them that more space won't necessarily help them unless there is something else that moves the needle," says Rob Hunden, owner of HSP.

Instead, the consultants recommended that the city invest in a proposed arena adjacent to the convention center, which would bring more people (and especially more locals) into downtown during the weekends and evenings, when business from the center would be quieter.

"Having that arena/convention center package together starts to bring consistent, 12-months-a-year activity to downtown," says Hunden. "All these things right in the same block turn the tide for the local community to say, 'We want to live downtown, work downtown, and move our company downtown.'"

Read the full cover story in Successful Meetings.

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