“We feel like Davis County is the center of the universe. There are a lot of events held here,” said County Commissioner Louenda Downs.
“This is one of the places in the nation where business is still booming,” she said, expressing thanks for the many clients, from big businesses to family occasions, that choose the county-owned facility to host their event.
“Hopefully more people will come here. We invite you to come back, invite you into our living room,” Downs said.
She referred in particular to the Oct. 28 Davis County Gala, which this year will target proceeds to assisting those with Alzheimer’s and memory-related issues.
“Every year we host a gala,” said Scott Lunt, general manager of the center and the adjacent privately-owned Hilton Garden Inn. “Lane Beattie (president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and West Bountiful resident) said he goes to gala events all over the world. He said this is one of the nicest.”
Comparing the annual gala to a sort of stimulus, he called it “one of the outstanding events for Davis County,” first started as a tradition when the Conference Center opened.
Reflective of the down economy, bookings have been down for the past two years, although Lunt told the Clipper they appear to be on the rebound.
“The Conference Center is down year over year, but things are moving again,” he said.
“Last year and the first part of this year, people were real skeptical, holding onto their pennies as long as they could.
“People either down-scaled meetings or completely cancelled them,” Lunt said.
“Several groups said they can’t do meetings this year, they have no funds, but to plan on next year. Next year bookings are looking real strong,” although not at 2007 levels, he said.
“So many amazing events have been held here, there are so many memories of events held in this facility,” said Director of Catering Dave Hilliard. “It’s an economic driver for this community.”
In addition, a new interactive website is being unveiled. The site is www.davisconferencecenter.com.
It includes event and menu pricing, along with “deals and promotions” being offered, among them “hot dates, AV (audio-visual) packages,” and an interactive photo/tour of the facility area, Hilliard said.
“We host a lot of private events, but are working to get more public events,” he said.
Tourism taxes generate about $4 million a year, with overall sales taxes going to the county down 5 to 10 percent, said Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.
About $1.3 million a year is allocated to pay off Conference Center bonds over the next 20 years, Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said.
“Economically the numbers show this center has brought an economic impact of $20 million to $30 million a year,” he said.
“It’s one of the best decisions the county and Layton City management have ever done as far as economic development.”