Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stonecrest to host first big convention

Stonecrest to host first big convention
LITHONIA—The Stonecrest area in Southeast DeKalb County apparently has the perfect recipe for a convention—shopping, restaurants, a movie theatre and even first rate bike and walking trails for those who enjoy outdoors.
The row of hotels at The Mall At Stonecrest are ready
to serve as host hotels for the NAACP conference.
In October, Stonecrest will get a chance to show off its treasure chest. The DeKalb County Branch NAACP is making plans to host the organization’s state convention at Stonecrest—home to The Mall at Stonecrest, AMC movie theater, several restaurants and Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, where delegates can take in fall foliage and exercise.
The 68th Annual NAACP Georgia State Convention and Civil Rights Conference will be the first major convention at Stonecrest and the first Georgia state NAACP Convention ever held in DeKalb, said Calvin Sims, who is chairing the DeKalb NAACP’s convention planning committee. The five-day convention is set for Oct. 6-10.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Sims said. “Stonecrest has a lot to offer, in terms of hospitality, which is why we won the bid to have it in DeKalb.”
Last year, the NAACP held its state convention in Warner Robbins, which is located just south of Macon. During the convention, DeKalb submitted its bid to host the 2010 conference, receiving endorsements by the DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. DeKalb County Commissioners Lee May and Larry Johnson also had submitted letters of support for the event. Sims said DeKalb beat out several NAACP branches that were vying to host the annual convention. After DeKalb won the bid, a team from the state convention made a site visit to DeKalb in January and were impressed by what they saw.
“There are over 100 NAACP branches across the state that could have hosted the event. They liked Stonecrest because it is an ideal location,” Sims said. “The delegates voted for it and we’re glad they did.”
The downtown Decatur Holiday Inn Select, Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort at Stone Mountain Park and the Crowne Plaza Ravinia Hotel at Perimeter usually hosts major conventions that are held in DeKalb. But Yvonne Hawks, president of the DeKalb NAACP, said she is looking forward to working with hotels in Southeast DeKalb. The organization is committed to using all of the Stonecrest hotels as host hotels for its five-day convention. Collectively, the Hyatt Place, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Comfort Suites, and Hilton Garden Inn have about 350 rooms. Organizers said the conference is expected to attract 350-500 delegates and guests from across Georgia, but they are hoping for an overflow crowd. If more rooms are needed, other nearby hotels will be contacted, Sims said. The NAACP is still working out the details of where the conference events will be hosted.
“This convention is going to boost the economy, in terms of hotels, shopping, dining and entertainment,” Hawks said. “We are hoping to do some type of venture between the mall and the guests that the convention will bring.”
Sims said he also believes the economic impact will be great.
“Delegates spend about $225 a day when they stay in hotels and eat and shop,” Sims said. “Conventions like the one we’re hosting can generate $400,000 to $500,000 or more in revenues. We’re hoping that this will be the first of many conventions to come.”
The convention will open with the 4th Annual William J. Breeding, Sr. Memorial Golf Tournament in DeKalb County. Organizers are working on hosting a community soul food dinner and worship service that will feature a mass choir comprised of churches from throughout the state. Hawks said there also will be workshops that will deal with local issues, including business and education. Registrations for the workshops, which will be open to the community to attend, will begin sometime in June, she sad.
Last Updated ( Friday, 14 May 2010 12:18 )