Located in downtown Salt Lake City, the Salt Palace Convention Center hosts a variety of local, national and international events, conventions and meetings. The 679,000-square-foot facility is made up of 10 continuous exhibit halls, 67 unique breakout spaces and a 45,400-square-foot ballroom with high ceilings and decorative chandeliers.
“We have a wonderfully large, well-designed, high-tech, well-laid-out venue that is the Salt Palace,” General Manager Dan Hayes says. “We have dramatic offerings in regards to our technology and the space itself.”
The Salt Palace is owned by Salt Lake County and managed by SMG. The Salt Palace partners with Visit Salt Lake, a separate entity contracted by Salt Lake County, for marketing the prime destination and taking the lead on booking large conventions and events at the facility.

Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) Executive Director Kathie Canning recently marked her 30th year with the center, and over that time she has witnessed the facility undergo major transformations. When she joined the OCCC in 1985 in the sales and marketing department, the facility was no larger than 150,000 square feet. Today, after five different expansion projects, the OCCC measures 2.1 million square feet of exhibition space, making it the second-largest convention center in the United States.
The surrounding community of Orlando, Fla., also has changed since that time, Canning says. The OCCC’s foundation was intended to be a catalyst for economic development in the city. Since then, the infrastructure of the city has evolved around the campus, allowing the opportunity to host some of the largest events in the nation.

Leighton Moore, founder of Ocean City Seacrets – a complex of 19 bars and restaurants and seven stages on the Maryland shore – is a born showman and a man who tirelessly seeks out new interests and challenges. His latest is building his own distillery on the Seacrets premises. To supply his bars and a burgeoning retail market, Moore is building on the former site of Seacrets Hotel what is Maryland’s first limited-licensed distillery that is part of a food and beverage establishment.
Many distilleries, breweries and wineries host tours of their operations and make money doing so. But the Seacrets Distilling Company will not just take guests on a tour of the operation. It also will transport them back in time to the last day before the end of Prohibition – Dec. 5, 1933.

Nearly $33 million is being invested in upgrades and renovations to the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., and the soon-to-be attached $63 million Albany Capital Center will make the Albany market an optimal sports and entertainment destination. “The Albany Capital Center is located just steps away from the capital of New York state,” SMG Regional General Manager Bob Belber says. “Associations that lobby the state legislators will host their annual events and connect with their state leaders. Meeting planners will choose Albany because their delegates will enjoy the beautiful new meeting space and then they can get out and enjoy first-class restaurants, attractions, museums and a new casino that is being built in the capital region with a target opening of late 2016.” 

When guests come to The Bicycle Hotel & Casino, they can expect “the very best” in service, Robert H. Carter says. “We spend a lot of time training employees ... to make our customers feel like part of the family,” he says.

Based in Bell Gardens, Calif., the location near downtown Los Angeles offers a seven-story hotel with 99 rooms and signature suites. Also known as “The Bike,” the entertainment complex has a 100,000-square-foot gaming facility with 185 tables of poker and card games. 

Carter, who is president of the Carter Management Group Inc., a general partner of The Bike, notes that its history goes back to 1984. At the time, he was a certified public accountant with a client that wanted to open a card room. 

In its 36th year of providing excellence in general contracting and construction management, R.D. Olson Construction has a well-established reputation in the industry and is now focused on building its legacy for the future. “What have we focused on in the last couple of years?” President Bill Wilhelm asks. “Not letting our prior 35 years of success get in the way of the future and focusing on what kind of change we have to make to adapt to the change in the industry.” 

Founded by Robert Olson in 1979, the Irvine, Calif.-based company has established itself as a nationwide general contracting and construction management firm recognized for reliability and customer loyalty. The company is known for its hospitality construction expertise, as well as its growing presence in healthcare and multi-unit projects. 

Offering a wide range of advisory services, The Innovation Group has taken a different route to establish itself in the hospitality and gaming industry. Although many of its competitors have roots within the industry, The Innovation Group entered the market more than 20 years ago, under the leadership of Steve Rittvo, by way of the planning and engineering world.

“Before becoming a hospitality and gaming services firm, we were a planning and engineering firm, specializing in transportation,” President Michael Soll says. “We worked on large-scale developments and this industry was a natural outgrowth. We used that as a platform from which to innovate in the industry. We look at business models that are good for us and the industry, making sure our projects help clients add value and leverage their abilities, brand and identity to attract marketshare.” 

As part of its sustainability efforts, workers at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center have been conditioned to reflexively turn off the lights whenever they leave a room – even when they’re at home. That’s great for energy conservation, but bad for spouses left standing in a dark kitchen, jokes SMG regional general manager Mark Gatley.

Energy conservation and sustainability have been major themes for the 24-year-old convention center over the past decade. “We do everything operationally on a daily basis to make sure we’re recycling and repurposing anything we can,” says Julia Johnson, a LEED-Accredited Professional and the center’s sustainable programs manager. The convention center achieved LEED Gold certification for an Existing Building in July 2012, and staff continues to implement more environmental measures ahead of its LEED Existing Building recertification in 2017.

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