Beaufort Eyes S.C. Conference Center

Because they want to attract more meetings and events, officials have formed a committee to study the idea of building a new 25,000- to 50,000-square-foot conference center in Beaufort, S.C., local newspaper the Beaufort Gazette reported this month.

"We know the demand is there because we get requests all the time that we cannot fill," Committee Chair D.J. Desai told the Gazette. "We lose a lot of weddings and other events to different places."

The conference center committee — organized by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and its associated convention and visitors bureau — sent RFPs to local architects and engineers early this month, and plans to hold a public forum with area residents in April. After receiving community input, the committee will present its findings to the chamber and CVB boards, which will then begin lobbying the county and city for their support.

Although it is purposely being called a conference center — not a convention center — to reflect the size of the events that Beaufort intends to attract, the new facility would be as much as five times the size of Beaufort's largest existing meeting space: a 5,000-square-foot meeting room at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.

In addition, the conference center would create at least 70 jobs and generate $97,000 in additional tax revenue, not to mention $3.3 million to $6.4 million in annual visitor spending, according to Chamber President and CEO Carlotta Ungaro.