At a strategic planning meeting held last week, the Bentonville Convention & Visitors Bureau in Bentonville, Ark., stated publicly that it would like to pursue larger meetings and events, as well as opportunities to build venues that would accommodate them.
According to local newspaper The Benton County Daily Record, which reported on the meeting, the new ambitions come as Bentonville—home to the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club—prepares for the 2010 opening of a new art museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, that city officials expect will increase the appeal of Northwest Arkansas as a meeting and tourism destination.
"We're about to see some dramatic changes," said Gary Compton, chairman of the Bentonville Advertising and Promotion Commission, which governs the CVB. "There's no question that what's about to happen in the immediate future in Bentonville is going to be really larger than any of could imagine."
According to the Daily Record, CVB Director of Sales Blair Cromwell said that Bentonville has received RFPs from a number of organizations that have wanted to meet in Bentonville, but have been unable to due to the lack of facilities that can accommodate more than 1,000 attendees.
Although Bentonville lacks a large convention center, the CVB said last week that it would like to more aggressively market its sports facilities and other non-traditional spaces to groups. It also floated the idea of building an events arena and presented a proposal for a new visitors center.
Said Compton, "Admittedly, we don't have the big convention center like they do in Rogers [Arkansas], but I think we should play to our strengths."