Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2015

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TOP LEVEL HOSPITALITY, OVERWHELMING MEETING SPACE AND AN EXCITING NIGHTLIFE MAKE "ARIZONA'S URBAN HEART" MEETING PLANNERS #1 CHOICE ! BY CYNTHIA MOLUSK The Phoenix area has always been a memorable place to hold a meeting. Hotels and resorts bask in near-perpetual sunshine, natural beauty manifests itself in every direction, and jaw-dropping sunsets paint the desert sky on a nightly basis. Now, thanks to a metamorphosis in Phoenix's urban core — including a newly expanded convention center, a new 1,000-room hotel, and a light-rail system that connects meeting attendees to a new world of dining and entertainment options — convening here packs more value than ever. The Phoenix Convention Center just completed a $600 million expansion proj- ect in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. New and renovated hotels have opened within steps of the convention center. The city's new Light Rail transportation makes getting around fast, easy, and safe. Downtown Phoenix provides excellent accommodation, dining and entertainment options for meeting and convention groups. If it didn't sport the earthy hues of the Grand Canyon, the new Phoenix Convention Center might have earned the nickname "the green giant." Observant attendees won't need to see a plaque to confirm that the conven- tion center is dedicated to minimizing its impact on the environment, but, just in case, there is one. It hangs in the West Building, which was awarded LEED silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. More tangible green features at the convention center include chairs made from recycled car batteries and seat belts, tablecloths made from old plastic bottles, and meals made from locally farmed produce. There are also rooftop solar panels and a water-harvesting gar- den that converts condensation from the building's heating and cooling system into water for landscaping. If you are interested in book- ing a meeting or event in the Phoenix area feel free to contact James Jessie, the senior vice president of Sales at the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. While in Phoenix, if time per- mits from a busy schedule of meetings to attend, delve into the city's rich African-American culture. W i t h dozens of his- t o r i c a l s i g h t s to visit a t t e n - d e e s are guaranteed to leave with a better understanding of African-American's influence in "Arizona's Urban Heart". In the early half of the 20th century, the segregated and growing African-American middle class developed its own communi- ty of businesses, from restaurants to hotels and barbershops. In 1946 the William H. Patterson Elks Lodge No. 477 was established and became a popular gathering place for the community as well as an Elks Lodge for the Black men of the community. Business and leisure travelers alike are encouraged to explore the great historical landmark. Eastlake Park is currently one of many parks in the area used for public recre- ation in the communities North of the Salt River and South of Jefferson Street. It's also the place where Booker T. Washington And W.E.B. DuBois spoke in the early 1900s at the first ever Juneteenth celebration. The Paul Lawrence Dunbar School was established in 1925, by the Phoenix Union Elementary School District to accommodate African-American stu- dents during these racially segregated times. The school was named after the famous African-American poet, novelist and playwright. He was also one of the first Blacks to gain national attention as a poet. Other fascinating sites to see include The George Washington Carver M useum & Cultural Center, The Swindall Tourist Inn and Bethel A.M.E. Church. Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is located in the middle of the Phoenix area, less than ten minutes from downtown, and within 20 miles of almost all of our towns and cities. B M & T ••• September/October 2015 ••• 34 AREA GUIDES P H O E N I X Phoenix Convention Center interior Photo Credit: Phoenix CC • • • STATS • • • HOTEL ROOMS Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel 1000 Hyatt Regency Phoenix 693 Renaissance Phoenix Downtown 520 Westin Phoenix 242 Hotel Palomar 242 EXHIBITION FACILITIES The Phoenix Convention Center Total Exhibit Space 900,000 sq. ft. Meeting Rooms 90 WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Visit Phoenix (877) CALLPHX or (602) 254-6500 Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce – (602) 307-5200 JAMES JESSIE

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