Commissioner Kafoury, it is my pleasure to write on behalf of your city to encourage you to do everything you can to bring about a Convention Center Hotel for the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
The 2016 United Methodist Church General Conference will be held in Portland. This 11 day meeting brings about a 16 million dollar impact to your city not counting the dozens of 2-3 day meetings of various sub-groups related to our denomination that have already begun to meet in your city as they prepare their hearts and minds for this next meeting of our denominational legislative body.
I served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Commission on the General Conference during the time in which we conducted site selection. We selected Portland to host the General Conference after receiving proposals and performing site visits across the western 1/3rd of the United States. We won’t be in that area of the country for another 20 years.
The best reasons for selecting your city are the MAX line for getting from the airport to the convention center and the hotels, the outstanding layout of the convention center, and the general affordability of the city. The two biggest drawbacks and hesitation points in selecting your city include the lack of a convention center hotel and the lack of multiple restaurants within easy walking distance of the convention center. Historically, we only use hotels within a 7-block walk of the convention center. Dependence on public transportation is questionable with the hours of our legislative days running from 7 AM to 1 AM most days (not counting the staff hours that go beyond those).
I’ve had the pleasure of being in Portland for the Commission on the General Conference on numerous trips since my first visit in 2009. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know your city as a member of the Travel Portland Customer Advisory Board over these last two years. I also live in a city (Nashville, TN) that is completing a brand new convention center and anchor hotel because in their research they learned of the business that Portland has lost across the years due to not having an anchor hotel.
The hospitality community in Portland is knowledgeable and professional. They know how to welcome people to Portland and to show off the best features of the Pacific Northwest region of our country. While the numerous hotels of the area do provide a variety of price points, for convention center business, it is essential that you have a larger property adjacent to the center.
The Travel Portland staff has been keeping us up-to-date on the current status of the hotel project. As a decision maker for the development and construction of a major convention center hotel, I want to encourage you to make Portland competitive in the convention market. A 600 room convention center hotel will be a good start in doing that. Further development of other hotel properties and restaurants in the Lloyd Center area of the city, and the continuation of free light rails service will give your city a competitive edge.
Please take this first step in developing Portland’s convention capability by approving the funding and development of an anchor hotel near the convention center. And it would be really great if ground-breaking could happen soon so that we could use it in May 2016.
Alan J. Morrison
Rev. Alan J Morrison
Director of Support Services – Meeting Planning, Facilities, & Procurement
General Council on Finance and Administration
The United Methodist Church
1 Music Circle North
PO Box 340029
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 369-2350 – Phone
(615) 369-2400 – Fax
“Serving the Church through the ministry of administration.”