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The Heart of International Drive

Explore the Economic Impact and Community Benefits of the Orange County Convention Center

The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) remains steadfast in its mission of economic development. The vison is for Orange County to have the healthiest and most robust economy in the nation. By hosting regional, national and international conventions, meetings and trade shows, the Center stimulates and infuses the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities. As The Center of Hospitality, the OCCC is customer-service focused, relationship driven and innovative, while actively engaging with its employees, clients and stakeholders.

In recent years, the Center provided approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually. The OCCC has averaged nearly 200 events, including 115 conventions and tradeshows that attract more than 1.5 million attendees to the region each year.

From March to December 2020, the Center safely hosted more than 50 events under modified operations, with an economic impact of $226 million. For fiscal year 2019-2020, the OCCC welcomed an estimated 667,000 attendees across 79 events, generating an estimated $1.49 billion in economic impact.

 

OCCC Long-Time Employees and History
 

 


Expert Industry Insight

Link to the Event Updates Page

Sherrif Karamat

President/CEO of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)
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Sherrif Karamat, CAE

President/CEO of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

“Over the last 50 years, Convention Centers have become known as key economic drivers in cities globally. This has resulted in a highly competitive landscape with cities around the world building state of the art facilities and operating on various business models to attract conventions and business events to their cities. While COVID has severely restricted larger events such as conventions and tradeshows, as these events return, event organizers will be looking to cities and centers to provide omnichannel options. They will also be looking to cities and centers to play a greater role in helping to develop the business of the event organizer in the local community and potentially share in the risk/rewards of the event.

Various reasons may result in why convention centers are flexible in negotiations including seasonality, supply versus demand, and the list goes on. Legacy models have long been tied to the hospitality sectors however increasingly, cities are recognizing the role that conventions and tradeshows play as a catalyst for growth in numerous sectors. Thus, convention centers may be prepared to be more flexible in pricing models and contracts for events that are more aligned with the economic priorities of the city and less flexible to others.”

Link to the Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines Publication - Opens in a new tab

Cathy Breden

CEO of the Center for
Exhibition Industry Research
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Cathy Breden

CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research

“A variety of factors go into negotiating a convention center contract. From the exhibition organizer’s perspective, they are bringing a piece of business to a city and they want the best overall package possible. The organizer will take into consideration the available dates, available space and rates, along with other concessions that are important to them, as well as hotel rates, etc. They will also consider whether the destination and convention center is attractive to their exhibitors and attendees. It is in their best interest to have the largest attendance possible. There is no simple pricing structure that would meet the needs of the organizer. As part of the negotiation process, both the organizer and the convention center need to have the ability to negotiate. A simple scenario, for instance, the destination might not be the first choice for the organizer; however, if the two parties are able to negotiate an attractive package, the likelihood of the city getting that piece of business is higher.”

Link to the Event Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions Page

David Audrain

Executive Director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers
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David Audrain

Executive Director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers

“The situation’s always been that convention centers are basically a tool to bring heads in beds — to fill hotel rooms. And so their primary target and their primary business is to find as large as possible groups to fill the venue with the most amount of out-of-towners to fill the hotel rooms. The amounts the venues charge is as long or as short as a piece of string. In some cases, venues do give away venue space. The whole package can be the venue is free because the hotel room rates are solid, and the group coming in wants a free venue but they don’t mind paying a little bit extra for the hotel rooms.”

 


 

A Glimpse Into Three Major Events | Dec. 8-20, 2020

From Dec. 8-20, 2020, the OCCC welcomed three major conventions and trade shows including, the American Kennel Club (AKC) National Championship presented by Royal Canin, Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend, and the Central Florida International Auto Show, which employed an estimated 753 local residents with a combined salary range of $9 to $168 per hour. This direct show floor workforce does not include the multitude of employees who also work behind the scenes in the transportation, parking, sales, leasing and finance sections of the OCCC, as well as key staff who assist in coordinating these events. Ancillary staff at local hotels, restaurants, retailers, attractions, theme parks and the convention bureau also provided additional support and services to convention attendees and exhibitors beyond the show floor, further emphasizing the value of job creation and economic impact these events have on the community.

 

 


 

Community Impact | Convention Industry’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility

The OCCC strives to give back to the community through charitable contributions and partnerships with several of the region’s non-profit organizations. Nearly $840,000 in funds and merchandise, and approximately 1.1 million pounds of goods, were donated to local organizations, including Give Kids the World, A Gift for Teaching, Habitat for Humanity, Clean the World, Pet Alliance of Orlando and Heart of Florida United Way during the 19-20 fiscal year. Between 2012 and 2019, the Center assisted conventions, trade shows and events in donating over $14.2 million of supplies and food to local community organizations.

 

Serving Essential Public
Safety Roles During
Local Emergencies

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Center to
Community Gardens:
Feeding the Region

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OCCC Employees
Support Orange County
CARES Initiative

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OCCC Partners with CareerSource to Support Reemployment Assistance

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News 13 | OCCC Public Safety
 

News 13 | OCCC Public Safety

Valencia College Classes
 

WKMG | Valencia College Classes

WFTV | United Way Thanksgiving Project
 

WFTV | United Way Thanksgiving Project


 

 

Economic Impact of the Heart of I-Drive

 

OCCC Modified Operations Events
 

 

The OCCC is committed to moving forward from the pandemic and finding innovative ways to continue Meeting Safely Today for a Stronger Tomorrow. Since launching its robust Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines in June 2020, all eyes have been on Orlando to lead its clients, employees, community and the convention industry to success. The Center’s recovery efforts have enabled local residents to stay employed and have helped the OCCC solidify future bookings that further create economic opportunities from visitors, attendees and exhibitors who support local businesses.

Every dollar a convention attendee or exhibitor spends during their visit, creates and supports jobs in the local community, puts funds for vital services in government coffers, and puts money in the hands of tens of thousands of citizens. According to a study by PFM Group Consulting, the average attendee at the OCCC has a $2,229 impact on the local community – that number is how overall economic impact is estimated from events using the OCCC’s rentable 2.1 million square feet of exhibit space.

The 7 million square feet figure, used by some media outlets, paints an inaccurate picture. It creates the impression that the OCCC is 7 million square feet of useable space, when in reality much of it is OCCC space that cannot rented - unusable spaces like back of house areas, kitchens, walkways, lobbies, hallways, parking, landscaped areas, etc.

The overall goal of economic impact aligns with the mission maintaining and growing jobs – convention industry jobs that range from event managers, riggers, audio visual engineers, production assistants, stage managers, truck drivers, caterers, accountants, security workers, logistics managers, show designers, trade journalists, talent agents, insurers, musicians, social media managers, photographers, videographers, carpenters and other live event personnel and freelancers. Not to mention the many local retailers, mom and pop souvenir shops, restaurants, entertainment, theme parks and transportation options used by convention visitors during their visit on International Drive and across Orange County.

 

WKMG | OCCC Comeback
 

WKMG | OCCC Comeback

WKMG | CFIAS and Mr. Olympia
 

WKMG | CFIAS and Mr. Olympia

News 13 | Central Florida International Auto Show
 

News 13 | Orlando Auto Show


 

Pandemic Pivot: Collaboration Key to Saving Money and Jobs at the OCCC

 

OCCC Pandemic Pivot
 

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to accelerate in late spring 2020, the OCCC like every organization in the event industry, was faced with mounting cancellations and declining revenues requiring difficult financial decisions be made. As Orange County Government moved swiftly to fight COVID-19 and mitigate its impacts in the community, it was apparent that an incredible amount of additional staff would be needed to implement new programs and initiatives, like the COVID-19 Eviction Diversion, individual and business financial assistance from local CARES Act dollars, personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution, COVID-19 testing and others.

Rather than immediately seeking to furlough or lay off employees to save costs, the OCCC with the assistance of Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and County Administrator Byron Brooks, sought to collaborate with county departments to help the community, keep staff off the unemployment rolls, and ultimately save millions of dollars at the same time. The Convention Center has reassigned 55% of its workforce, an estimated 190 employees, to other areas of Orange County Government, including Administrative Services, Community & Family Services, County Administration, Health Services, Planning Environmental and Development Services, Public Works and Utilities.

There are also more than 60 vacant positions at the OCCC. Approximately, 200 employees will remain to continue working on maintenance, sales and service events that are still taking place at the Center. In addition to employee transfers, the OCCC has also reduced its utility usage, cut maintenance contacts, cleaning contracts, reduced supplies and event dependent purchases, in addition to holding vacant position in the countywide hiring freeze. These fiscally prudent actions have resulted in almost at least a $17 million reduction in the OCCC’s operational expenses. It is likely that figure could grow the longer the temporary employee reassignments remain in place.

 

WFTV | Staff Reassignments
 

WFTV | Staff Reassignments

WFTV | Staff Reassignments
 

Fox 35 | Employee Transfers

WFME | Optimistic About 2021
 

Moving Forward in 2021

 

 

 

Get In Touch

Orange County Convention Center

P.O. Box 691509

Orlando, FL 32869-1509

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(407) 685-9800

(800) 345-9845