Jackson — The staff at the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) are busier than usual these days. The reason for all the hustle and bustle is that the CVB is moving into a new headquarters facility on East Capitol Street in downtown Jackson. The bureau plans to be in its new offices August 7.
According to Wanda Collier-Wilson, president and CEO of the CVB, the move was prompted by the facility management agreement between the CVB and the new Mississippi TelCom Center. The East Capitol Street location offers convenience by its close proximity to the center.
However, a more important consideration was accessibility and visibility. The number of visitors to Jackson has increased significantly since 2000, and the CVB wanted a more readily-apparent presence and the ability to accommodate walk-ins, something the current facility on North President Street does not allow.
“All national travel forecasts indicate that this trend should continue, with 3.1 million visitors coming into the Capital City in 2005 alone. We felt it was time for the bureau to have a more visible and easily accessible location to accommodate those meetings and convention delegates, group tours, leisure visitors and local visitors,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that, due to Jackson’s lack of a Welcome Center, the CVB’s move to be more visible and accessible is even more important.
John Lawrence, president of Downtown Business Partners, said the move is exciting for the downtown area in a number of ways.
“The CVB will certainly have a great presence right on Capitol Street,” Lawrence said. “From this location, they are close to major hotels and convention facilities, but more important to us, they will be right in the path of pedestrians and visitors. This is truly a unique opportunity to show off the best of Jackson to a much larger audience.
“Committed organizations like the CVB make this area one of the most productive and fun places to work.”
Wilson said the CVB first began taking a closer look at how it could best respond to the changing dynamics of Jackson’s meetings market a couple of years ago. The talks continued as the Mississippi TelCom Center got under construction and the referendum was passed for a new downtown convention center.
Initial plans were to occupy space in the TelCom Center itself, but as design work progressed, it became evident that space would be better utilized as part of the complex’s seamless connection to the convention center.
The 74,000-square-foot TelCom Center offers approximately 21,000 square feet of meeting space, and held its first meeting in January of this year. It will be integrated into the newly funded Capital City Convention Center. Together, the facilities will offer more than 120,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The new convention center is scheduled to open in late 2008.
The new office not only reflects the CVB’s strategic decision to have a more prominent presence in the heart of downtown Jackson that is easily accessible, but also its efforts to still easily serve the city’s burgeoning Convention Center District.
The phone number, fax number, Web site and all other associated contract information for the CVB and its staff will not change.
Effective and efficient teamwork
Wilson said the new offices are actually a little smaller than its current facility. However, the new layout brings the staff’s work spaces closer together, which Wilson is hoping will lead to more effective and efficient teamwork.
The CVB’s mission is to attract, promote and facilitate tourism to and with the City of Jackson. The CVB employs approximately 20 workers. They are divided between four departments — administrative, sales and service, marketing and facility management (TelCom Center).
The CVB’s work has not gone unnoticed. In 2005, the Mississippi Tourism Association named the Jackson bureau the CVB of the Year for those bureaus in the $1-million-plus category. The CVB was cited for its excellence for its leadership in tourism efforts both in Jackson and statewide.
In addition, that same year Wilson was inducted into the Mississippi Tourism Hall of Fame by Mississippi Development Authority’s tourism division.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at firstname.lastname@example.org.