Meeting Professionals International
will open an office in Singapore on Oct. 25. The announcement was
made jointly by MPI and the Singapore Exhibition & Convention
Bureau at MPI's World Education Congress, held this week in
Montreal for more than 3,700 attendees. Initially, the office will
have one employee who will report to Didier Scaillet, MPI's vice
president of global development. This is the latest in the
association's efforts to expand globally. In other MPI news, the
board of directors unanimously has voted to sign the United Nations
Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility. According to
MPI, the compact is the world's largest corporate responsibility
initiative with more than 3,700 participants and stakeholders from
more than 100 countries. It provides a platform for participating
organizations to advance their commitment to environmental
sustainability and global citizenship.
Chicago's McCormick Place officially opens its West
Building tomorrow, months ahead of original projections. Connected
to McCormick Place South and the 800-room Hyatt Regency McCormick
Place, the building adds 470,000 square feet of exhibition space to
the convention center complex, plus 61 meeting rooms totaling
250,000 square feet, including a 100,000-square-foot ballroom.
Other features include a 250-seat restaurant, a 600-seat
exhibit-floor food court and an 8,000-square-foot rooftop garden
and event space. The opening night reception for ASAE & The
Center for Association Leadership's annual meeting on Aug. 11 will
be the first event held in the building.
Wayne Bennett, the executive director
of the Fresno (Calif.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, will resign
from his post on Aug. 31. Bennett, who joined the bureau in the
fall of 2005, explained his departure by saying he wants to spend
time with his new wife and insists that the bureau is "in great
shape," despite a scandal earlier this year involving a former
bookkeeper embezzling $56,000. "The Budget Finance and Audit
Committee has tightened up controls," Bennett said. He will remain
at the bureau in a supporting role until the end of August to help
the transition process. Oran Cogdill, former owner of the Best
Western hotel in Fresno, has been named interim executive director.
A search committee for a permanent replacement for Bennett will be
Former Palm Beach County (Fla.)
Convention and Visitors Bureau controller Donna M. Duffer on Monday
was sentenced to 10 years in jail for stealing $1.6 million from
the CVB. According to the Palm Beach Post, she forged 225 checks
over three years to pay for her online gambling habit. She also was
ordered to repay the amount, which the bureau currently owes to the
IRS in back taxes and penalties.
Omni Hotels has announced three new
projects. About three blocks from the convention center in Houston,
the downtown Sheraton that currently is closed will be renovated
into an all-suite property with 400 guest rooms, a
13,000-square-foot wellness center and 30,000 square feet of
meeting space. The conversion is expected to take about two years.
Near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Omni has purchased 90 acres that will
be turned into a planned community. Ground will be broken in the
spring on a 350-room hotel; eventually, the resort will have a
boutique hotel and other accommodation options. In Chicago, Omni is
adding a second hotel on Michigan Avenue with park and lake views.
The property will have about 350 rooms and 30,000 square feet of
meeting space, and will open sometime in 2009.
The Pennsylvania State Legislature has
approved a $700 million plan to expand the Pennsylvania Convention
Center. When completed in the first quarter of 2010, the expansion
will offer 541,000 square feet of exhibition space as well as a
60,000-square-foot ballroom, making it the largest contiguous
exhibit space on the East Coast.