Mark Zimmerman, General Manager for Georgia World Congress Center, stopped by Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio’s Around Atlanta edition to talk about the center, activity in downtown Atlanta and the future of the city’s infrastructure.
Zimmerman started at the Georgia World Congress Center in 1984 where he worked in food services for a couple of years before deciding that the conventions and trade show business was the one for him. He worked his way up to event coordinator, director of event services, assistant general manager and then finally general manager before he left for three-and-a-half years to open the Cobb Galleria Centre. He later came back to the Georgia World Congress Center, where he’s been the general manager for the past 11 years.
The Georgia World Congress Center is the fourth-largest convention center in the country with 4 million square feet of space; 1.4 million of that being exhibit space. In addition, there are 105 meeting rooms and two large ballrooms. The GWCC is also connected to the Georgia Dome, its sister facility, and has control over Centennial Olympic Park. All together, the management team of GWCC controls more than 200 acres of downtown property.
From public shows, trade shows and conventions to drug launches, fitness shows and MomoCon, the GWCC can host any event. MomoCon, a fan convention in Atlanta, is expected to host 20,000 attendees in a couple of weeks. Zimmerman says, “You never know what you might see coming through the doors.”
Working closely with the hospitality industry in downtown Atlanta, GWCC generates more than a billion dollars of economic benefit for the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta, which is only expected to grow as the city undergoes changes and innovations. The demand is high for space at the GWCC and in Atlanta, which is proven as the convention center is taking bookings for 10 years from now! “If you book a space in a city that’s too small, then obviously that’s going to cost you dollars. You have to look at the growth spurts of whatever the industry is out there and see what makes sense. It’s very critical,” says Zimmerman of Atlanta’s growth and GWCC’s high demand.
With the growth of the city, there has been a vision cast for how the infrastructure is to change by 2020. Part of this vision includes the new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, which is now underway and is expected to be complete by March 2017. With the new stadium, a new MLS team will be purchased by Arthur Blank that will play in the new facility. In addition, the GWCC team plans to build a 1,000 room hotel on the property.
As the city of Atlanta is growing and changing, so is the GWCC. The original building was opened in 1976, so constant renovation and innovation is demanded. More than one million people come through the facility every year, but the GWCC, along with internet and telecommunications partner CCLD, are able to stay on top of the latest and greatest advancements. “There’s a lot of competition throughout the country, and you have to make sure you’re up on your game,” says Zimmerman.
The city of Atlanta is constantly growing and evolving, and the Georgia World Congress Center is a perfect example of a space in high demand that is forever catering to the needs of groups and individuals from all walks of life.
To learn more about the Georgia World Congress Center, contact the administration office at 404-223-4000 or visit www.gwcc.com.
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