JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga., May 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 300 people gathered Sunday to celebrate the official grand opening of the new Jekyll Island Convention Center. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal held the large scissors and cut the ribbon on the highly-anticipated new Convention Center, while state delegates, the Jekyll Island Authority board, staff and public came together to usher in a new era for Jekyll Island.
"The opening of the Jekyll Island Convention Center is reason for celebration for the state of Georgia," said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. "Jekyll Island is one of Georgia's greatest gems and its' revitalization means jobs, economic development and tax dollars for the state. With this new Convention Center and the continued revitalization efforts, Jekyll is leading the way for a very bright future for all of Georgia."
The 128,000-square foot Jekyll Island Convention Center has been in planning for more than four years. Construction on the Center began in 2010, and was completed several months ahead of schedule and under the planned $50 million budget.
Already, the Center has garnered extensive praise from convention planners and state officials. More than 200 conventions are booked at the Center through 2016, which will have a resulting economic impact of more than $40 million on the state's economy and also generate increased tourism for Jekyll Island.
The positive impact on tourism is already being seen in an uptick in revenues by hotels in the area, as businesses across the Southeast become more aware of all that Jekyll Island offers. This trend is expected to continue and even accelerate.
"Tourism is a vital part of the Georgia economy, and we expect a boost with the opening of Jekyll Island's new convention center," said Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner for Tourism, Georgia Department of Economic Development. "Having the only beachfront convention center in the Southeast positions Georgia for continued economic growth for years to come. Georgia was the fourth fastest-growing destination for international travelers in 2010. Jekyll's revitalization and new infrastructure will only help bolster that number."
Many anticipate the new Jekyll Island Convention Center will be a shining star for the state of Georgia, according to Jones Hooks, Executive Director, Jekyll Island Authority.
"This facility, augmented by the spectacular Great Dunes Park, the planned Westin Hotel and Hyatt Place, and the unrivaled charm of the Historic District, sets Jekyll Island apart to become one of the premier meeting destinations, not only in the state and in the Southeast, but in the county," Hooks said. "The new convention center and the overall revitalization of Jekyll Island are sure to have a significant impact on the economy in Georgia and beyond. The excitement and anticipation here on Jekyll Island are huge."
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, guests to the event were invited inside the Center for an open house and self-guided tours. The response heard from first-time attendees was purely positive, with guests commenting on the center's coastal color scheme, detail-oriented design and eco-friendly elements, including solar panels, an 80-gallon cistern for collecting and dispensing rainwater, and low-impact lighting.
The first convention to be held in the new center will be hosted by the Georgia Rural Water Association. Some 2,000 attendees are planned to attend this inaugural conference and trade show. Prior to this first showcase, several soft-opening events were held at the center, including the College of Coastal Georgia's Spring 2012 graduation ceremony, an opera dinner theater and an open-house for coastal business owners.