When cities invest in building convention centers and other spaces where businesses can host face-to-face meetings, it pays off. The power of business conferences is evident: $845 billion in business sales, $2.5 million in direct jobs, and 22 percent growth between 2009 and 2016.

That spells confidence for communities such as Las Vegas and Louisville, KY, which are investing nearly $600 million to build new facilities.

“The present is strong and the future is bright,” says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The growth of the meetings industry is [attributed] in part to the fact that there are new and improving facilities. All these new facilities will pay dividends in terms of more jobs, spending and tax revenue.”

More space leads to more growth

Doug Bennett, senior vice president of convention development at Louisville Tourism, says the Kentucky International Convention Center will open this quarter in order to meet increasing demand.

“Businesses see face-to-face engagement with existing and potentially new customers as a great investment,” he says. “Cities like Louisville which have a strong and diverse business landscape are poised to do well in the growth of meetings and conventions.”

In Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment is beginning construction on Caesars Forum, expected to open in 2020.

“Being face-to-face is how companies increase stock prices and sell products,” says Michael Massari, chief sales officer at Caesars Entertainment. “The fact that the new builds are happening is a testament to face-to-face meetings.”

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, the largest association for meeting and event professionals, says recent research confirms the “industry plays a critical role in connecting people and bolstering crucial segments of our national economy. The numbers reiterate what anecdotally we always knew to be true — no matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice.”