Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau for more than two decades, will retire at the end of this year. Alexander, who has steered the organization through some turbulent times, helped guide the city's transformation in recent years by spearheading initiatives that highlighted its resurgence. He also oversaw the expansion, renovation and renaming of TCF Center, in order to attract larger meetings and events to Detroit and the surrounding parts of southeastern Michigan.
During his tenure Alexander established the Detroit Sports Commission, a subsidiary of the CVB that helped the city to land many major sporting events. Among the largest were Super Bowl XL in 2006 and the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2009, as well as the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2017; the Women's International Bowling Congress in 2008; the MLB All-Star Game in 2005; and the Ryder Cup in 2004.
As chair of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, an organization he has been a part of since its inception in 2009, Alexander continues to be play a key role in the growth and development of the TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Center). He oversaw completion of the newly expanded facility in 2015, and under his leadership the convention center increased revenue by more than 536 percent between 2010 and 2019. Alexander will retain this position with the DRCFA for the foreseeable future.
Among the many large conventions Alexander's team has brought to Detroit are the American Society of Association Executives, FIRST Robotics World Championships, NAACP, National Black MBA Association, Evangelical Lutheran Youth Gathering, National Society of Black Engineers and National Guard Association of the United States. In 2008, he initiated an international marketing partnership with Windsor, Ontario, just across the Canadian border.
Alexander also championed Detroit's rebound with his team's 2012 campaign, "Detroit, America's Great Comeback City," one which significantly boosted tourism over the ensuing years.
"When it comes to attracting conventions and visitors, at one time Larry had one of the most challenging jobs in the country and in the tough times he was there with creative strategies and steadfast advocacy for our community," said Marla Drutz, vice president and general manager of WDIV-TV Detroit and chair of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau board of directors. "As Detroit began its rebound, Larry was always one step ahead in presenting metro Detroit as a phenomenal location for events and visitors. His work ethic, command of complex issues and client focus are also exemplary."
Alexander began his decades-long hospitality career with Westin Hotels & Resorts, and became the company's first African American general manager at the age of 29. He has been recognized numerous times for civic contributions, including with the 2012 Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award, the 2013 ASAE Academy of Leaders Award and the (Michigan) Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and 2016. He currently sits on the chairman's circle of the U.S. Travel Association.
Alexander intends to focus over the next six months with the CVB on developing a solid marketing and sales plan to resurrect meetings, conventions and leisure tourism in the region as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.