Evansville is ready for business. The third-largest city in Indiana, across the Ohio River from Kentucky, this destination has spent the past several years building its infrastructure and expanding its facilities after the challenges following the 2008 economic crisis.
Most prominent is the new convention center for Evansville: the 241-room Doubletree by Hilton hotel, attached by walkovers to the 280,000-square-foot Old National Events Plaza and 290,000-square-foot Ford Center (which seats 11,000 people). Altogether the project represents a $61 million investment, and it opened this past February. Add to that the $3.5 million spent on improvements to the convention center, including enhancing the ballrooms and improvements to the entryways.
"The last large-scale conference we held was in 2009," says Bob Warren, executive director of Evansville CVB. "The growth and development in this community is absolutely explosive right now. It's provided a vitality in the downtown and that's really catching."
Beyond the main convention district, he points to a number of off-property venues that have proven alluring for groups. The Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden offers a number of indoor and outdoor facilities for corporate groups. The Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science includes spaces for groups of all sizes, surrounded by exhibits ranging from hands-on science experiences to a reproduction of a 19th-century American rivertown.
The city also includes several cultural districts: Franklin Street Cultural District boasts a number of restaurants, bars, and nightlife; Downtown is wrapping up a redevelopment, bringing on additional restaurants and entertainment venues; and Haynie's Corner is one of Evansville's arts-driven hot spots.
As Warren sums it up: "It's a great place to host a meeting."
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This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.