Fort Wayne Moving In On Indy's Convention Territory?

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 15, 2010 Updated Dec 15, 2010 at 7:40 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Better facilities and a more aggressive approach are helping Fort Wayne land new convention business, in some cases at the expense of Indianapolis.

The head of “Visit Fort Wayne”-- what used to be called the convention and visitor's bureau—revels in the fact the city has recently snatched four larger events that had been the exclusive property of Indy.

But when it was confirmed Tuesday that Fort Wayne had taken the 2012 Indiana Democratic Party Convention from Indy's grasp, it felt somewhat like little brother broke into big brother’s piggy bank.

The state democratic party chairman came to Fort Wayne to deliver the welcome economic news that up to 2,500 party faithful would be pouring into our downtown 18 months from now.

It’s estimated the three-day event will generate $400,000 for the local economy.

It's the first time that convention has ever been held outside the capital city.

Fort Wayne's expanded Grand Wayne Center and new Courtyard By Marriott Hotel was key, but this region's leaders also put blood, sweat and tears into the recruiting job.

Chairman Dan Parker/Indiana Democratic Party: " I'd like to thank all of the hundreds of people who sent mail to my house, lobbying for the convention to come to Fort Wayne. This was an opportunity for the state party to really examine our state convention and what we could do to make this more of an event."

Chairperson Carmen Darland/3rd District Democratic Party: " We have a very good base of volunteers who are willing to put the letters out, put the phone calls out, and be very persuasive."

Parker says the democratic convention had already left Indy's downtown convention center, being held in some of that city’s hotels instead.

Fort Wayne can’t even compete with Indianapolis for some larger convention business, but when more events like the girls’ high school basketball finals and political conventions leave the capital to head north, at some point it’s bound to make Indianapolis convention officials nervous.

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