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Size and amenities options abound for metro meetings

You’ve got an important meeting coming up and you need to make sure everything’s just right. If your office won’t accommodate the size crowd you’re anticipating, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a venue. The place you choose can make or break your meeting.

What are the hot spots in the metro Jackson area for a successful meeting? It depends on the size of your group and what amenities you’ll require. For very large gatherings both the Hilton on County Line Road and the Marriott Downtown can fill the bill. The Marriott can accommodate 1,500 people in its grand ballroom, while the Hilton can seat up to 1,200. The advantage of having meetings at a hotel are obvious — those attending the meeting can stay at the hotel, and each provides banquet service.

If the meeting requires even more space, the Mississippi Trademart is your best bet. It can seat 5,760 theater style, and serve 3,456 banquet style. While the Trademart has tables and chairs and other items available, everything is a la carte. Catering can be arranged, or you can choose the catering service of your choice.

For a meeting with a theme, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame has a large meeting space upstairs that can accommodate 265. Between sessions, meeting attendees can tour the museum.

For a more down-home theme, the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum may be what you’re looking for. It can provide a catfish fry for groups large and small. There are actually a few different options available, with enough room to serve 400 banquet style or comfortably seat 600.

Want your group to reach for the stars? The Russell C. Davis Planetarium can handle a group of up to 190 people, theater style.

For a more artistic crowd, the new Mississippi Museum of Art could be just the ticket.

“We provide a unique offsite meeting venue that can accommodate many size groups,” says Maggie Lacy, director of marketing for the museum. “The Palette Café by Viking offers on-site catering, and all areas of the museum are wireless. And best of all, when it’s time to take a break, people can stretch their legs while enjoying access to our permanent collection. We have plenty of parking, as well as a museum staff for your meeting support.”

Overnight retreats are becoming more and more popular, and the trend is to get as far away from the distractions of every day life as possible. Both Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond and the Duncan M. Gray Center outside Canton provide comfortable overnight accommodations along with meeting rooms for various sized groups. And both are set in a quiet, peaceful setting, which is conducive to learning.

Forward-thinking meeting planners may want to take a step back in time and consider the Old Capitol Inn, which seats 50 to 300 theater style and 60 to 300 banquet style. Or perhaps your next meeting could take place in the historic Alamo Theatre, which seats 524 theater style.

There are many more options for both traditional and non-traditional meetings. Lunch or dinner meetings at Dennery’s, The Capital Club, the University Club and Hal & Mal’s are all options that ensure easy parking, a nice meal and most amenities necessary for a successful meeting.

One of the newer venues in town is the Mississippi Craft Center, set in a pastoral setting near the Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Julia Dailey, executive director for the Craftsman’s Guild of Mississippi, says the building is the ideal off-site meeting venue.

“So far, we’ve done mostly weddings, but we have had many corporate retreats, business luncheons and corporate dinners. Our classrooms make ideal breakout rooms. We have a main meeting room that feels like you’re in a treehouse. The Guild Hall will comfortably hold 200 people.” Dailey says the center has a list of 12 local caterers. “People can choose anything from a simple boxed lunch to fine cuisine.”

If trying to find the right spot is too mind-boggling, let the Metro Jackson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau help. you. The agency provides one of the best free-service packages for meetings and conventions in the nation. This helps reduce the cost of hosting a meeting or convention and provides some extra perks for the attendees at no additional charge.

Mara Hartmann, manager of public relations and communications for the Bureau, says that the new Mississippi TelCom Center can support groups of any size, up to 800 for a standing reception in the gallery.

“It’s an impressive facility,” says Hartmann. “It’s won both national and international design awards. The TelCom Center is the ideal business events facility. It’s one of the most luxurious, state-of-the-art technical facilities in the Southeast region.”

Hartmann says it has exceeded plans to book by 8% this year. “When the convention center is complete, the two will meld seamlessly.” The TelCom Center has an exclusive catering contract with Mildred’s VIP Catering.

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