Ten years as Salem’s perfectly sized convention center


Ten years. Nearly 900,000 event attendees. More than $33 million in total net revenue. Steady revenue growth, year by year, and an unbroken record of operating in the black. By any measure, the Salem Convention Center is an acknowledged urban success. It is also a landmark player in downtown Salem’s ongoing revitalization.

The Salem Convention Center hosts more than 500 events each year. Those events bring approximately 90,000 attendees annually into downtown Salem. “Because of this, we’ve seen increased interest from businesses in locating downtown. Established businesses are preserving and renovating their historic buildings. The Convention Center is a major player in downtown’s economic success and vibrancy,” says Sheri Wahrgren, Downtown Revitalization Manager for the City of Salem.

“Salem had a void for medium-sized conventions. Prior to the Convention Center opening, the largest group that could meet here in a convention setting was 300 people,” says Debbie McCune, Director of Sales/Vice President of TravelSalem. “The SCC is perfectly sized for Salem.”
“The outstanding staff, superior customer service, and excellent food are a huge part of our ongoing success,” says Chrissie Bertsch, SCC general manager. “We have dozens of repeat customers, and one group has already booked its annual conference through 2020.”

Attendees travel from around the state, region, nation and across the globe to attend multi-day conventions and conferences and one-day or half-day workshops or meetings. The Center also hosts a regular stream of clients celebrating weddings, family or school reunions, special occasions, and fundraisers. Its location just off I-5 midway between Portland and Eugene is convenient for groups arriving from outside Salem and around the state. The adjoining 193-room Grand Hotel and Bentley’s Grill restaurant make up the rest of the city block. Both receive substantial business from events at the Center.

Open and contemporary design, planned to be green
The open, contemporary building, designed by LMN Architects of Seattle with extensive glass, concrete, steel, and wood, is expansive yet inviting, thanks to the thoughtful placement of carpets, upholstered furniture, and light fixtures that cast a warm glow. Its 30,000 total square feet can accommodate up to 1,800 people at one time. Large rooms of up to 11,400 square feet are easily divided to host smaller groups.

Designed from the ground up to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient, the Center is LEED and EarthWISE certified. It features radiant heat floors, a single outdoor air ventilation and heat recovery unit that preconditions all incoming air, and awnings on the building’s floor-to-ceiling west-facing windows that open automatically as heat from the afternoon sun increases. 450 roof-top solar panels were installed in 2011. These and other measures significantly reduce the building’s ongoing heating and cooling costs.

Showcasing local artists
The Center’s extensive art collection showcases local and regional artists. Sculpture is featured in the outdoor courtyard and sculpture garden, which fronts Trade Street. Inside, the Center currently highlights pieces from the Hallie Ford Museum at Willamette University, the City of Salem, and the Center’s own permanent collection. The public is welcome to view the art collection during the Center’s regular business hours.
Funded with a combination of private and public money at a cost of $32 million, the Center is managed by The Salem Group, LLC.

The numbers:

• Opened: March, 2005
• Construction cost: $32 million
• Total net revenue as of June 2015: More than $33 million
• Local hotel room nights sold for SCC event attendees, March 2005 to June 2015: More than 83,000
• Total attendees, March 2005 to June 2015: 877,000
• Total events, March 2005 to June 2015: More than 5,600

Awards and Certifications:
• Northwest Construction’s Best Architectural Design, 2004
• One of the 100 Best Green Companies in Oregon, Oregon Business magazine
• One of the Top Three Best Convention/Conference Venues in Oregon, voted by meeting planners through Northwest Meetings and Events magazine
• LEED certified
• EarthWISE certified
• Member, United States Green Building Council

Commitment to green practices:
• The Santiam Gallery’s terrazzo floor is made of materials recycled from the building that previously stood on the SCC site.
• The Willamette Foyer floor is made from recycled plywood ends.
• All SCC air handling units and water heaters are 95% efficient.
• Low-reflecting membrane roof reduces SCC’s thermal footprint.
• Low wattage fluorescent lighting and Green Seal-certified janitorial supplies are used throughout the facility.
• ENERGY STAR-certified equipment is first choice for equipment purchases.
• SCC purchases Portland General Electric wind power.

For more information, please contact: Chrissie Bertsch, The Salem Group, LLC chrissie@salemconventioncenter.org 503-589-1700

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