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Economy and Business

Cleveland Convention Center complex gears up for opening
Convo center and medical exhibit hall nearly 100% finished

Kevin Niedermier
The atrium of the Global Center for Health Innovations adjacent to the new Cleveland Convention Center. The 2 facilities will open in a few months at or below the $465 million price tag.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:

At the end of this month tenants will start moving into downtown Cleveland’s “Global Center for Health Innovations.” That’s the new facility originally known as the Medical Mart next to the new Cleveland Convention Center, which is also nearing completion. The convention center will hold its first event in July.
Today WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier took a tour of the two facilities,which officials say are more than 90 percent complete.

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The outsides of the four-story Global Center for Health Innovations and the convention center, which is mostly underground, appear almost complete. But inside, workers are scrambling to finish. Dave Johnson is spokesman for the county-owned complexes’ management company, MMPI.

“It’s mostly finishing work now. They’re putting up wall panels, laying carpet, putting up these glass walls.”

At the end of this month, health care and medical information technology companies will start setting up in the Global Center. They include University Hospitals, Phillips Health Care, the Cleveland Clinic and Bio-Enterprise, the region’s bio-medical business incubator. Johnson guides a group of reporters through the stacks of building material, ladders and scaffolding and dust.

The Global Center’s atrium uses lots of glass
“This is the atrium. If you’ve been to the Cleveland art museum’s new atrium you’ll notice this is similar. It’s a LEEDS certified building with lots of glass that creates lots of natural light here and on the other levels as well.”

Johnson says about 80 percent of the exhibit space will be occupied when the center opens later this year. When the new taxpayer-funded convention center was proposed about seven years ago, the medical equipment exhibit component was included to boost convention business.
Johnson says the convention center has about 70 events booked, and about one third are health-care related. But the inaugural event, will be the National Senior Games in July. It will attract about 14,000 athletes and an estimated 20,000 spectators for 22 sports. Johnson says this exhibit space will accommodate volleyball, showing the significant difference from the old, low ceiling convention center.

Volleyball is a measure of the new convention center
“This hall is what we call Class A exhibit space. That means 90-foot spacing between columns and 30-foot high ceilings. It’s not only attractive to meeting planners, but it’s easy to move in and out of because you can move your truck right onto the exhibit floor.”

The Global Center and convention center are part of about $2 billion in recent Cleveland-area investments aimed at attracting people and dollars to the region. Lexi Hotchkiss of the visitor and tourism bureau, Positively Cleveland, says the new facilities will play a big role.

“They’re expecting around 300,000 people in their first year. And for every person who comes to a convention, you estimate they’ll spend $1,200 each, which goes back into the local economy.”

Cleveland getting another downtown hotel to attract conventions
Much of that money is spent on hotel rooms. And downtown Cleveland has landed another hotel. The Drury Hotel chain was the winning bidder in an auction to buy the 73-year old Cleveland Board of Education Building for just under $5-million. In 2015, the company will reopen the building next to the new convention center as a hotel. And more hotel space could mean more conventions.                                                                                                                     

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