Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber among final four choices to host 2018 NGLCC Convention

By : Alexis Vilaboy
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TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce will know by mid-April if Tampa will play host to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 convention.

The annual gathering, which (if chosen) would takes place Aug. 7-10, 2018 in Tampa, is the world’s largest LGBTQ business development event and brings thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to the host city.

“We are excited to be a finalist for the 2018 Nationalist Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Convention,” said Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, in a press release. “Hosting this event will elevate the entire Tampa Bay community in the eyes of the world as a major LGBTQ destination capable of putting on a significant, high-quality national event.”

The conference has the support of both the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, and the mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman.

“This national conference will put Tampa Bay on the map with LGBTQ conventions and the more than 200 major corporate partners of the NGLCC,” says Ashley Brundage, who co-chairs the event’s local organizing committee with wife, Whitney. “Each of these corporations strive to showcase their equality and diversity in their daily activities. Our rich, culturally diverse community will provide a positive impact on the conference attendees.”

The 2017 convention, which takes place in Las Vegas Aug. 1-4, anticipates nearly 1,200 visitors and, as the event has grown in size each year, the amount for Tampa would likely exceed that.

The estimated financial impact would be more than $2.1 million of added revenue to the Bay area based on hotel bookings alone — 2,000 rooms are expected to be needed.

“As we all know, our community tends to come early, stay late and spend often; so I think that number would be higher,” Brundage says.

Brundage also says she believes the strength of the city’s bid to host the event comes mostly from the more than 30 members of the committee and the dedication they bring to the table.

The committee is made up of people like former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, manager at Ballard Partner’s Tampa office Ana Cruz and Hillsborough county’s first openly gay commissioner Kevin Beckner.

The local organizing committee would also be in charge of planning a kickoff party the night before the conference.

“Part of the bid was the fact that the chamber would be the official host of the conference welcome kickoff reception, which would happen on the Tuesday night before the conference starts on Wednesday,” Brundage says. “We’re bouncing around a couple ideas on where we would host that event, but we are thinking maybe the aquarium, history center or possibly even Amalie Arena.”

Tampa is in the running against Philadelphia, New Orleans and Austin.

Christina Diaz contributed to this story.

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