On Saturday, the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau will close its Visitor Information Center and offices at the Historic Railroad Depot in downtown Cartersville in preparation for its relocation to the Clarence Brown Conference Center Sept. 20.
For CVB Deputy Director Regina Wheeler and her co-workers, it is an exciting time to work at the local destination marketing organization.
"[The move] is getting closer," she said. "At times it seems like this has been a long process but actually it's been a very timely construction process. We broke ground on July 1, 2009, so we're really right on schedule in terms of the construction. But it's hard waiting for something as wonderful as this new center is going to be."
Located at 5450 State Route 20 in Cartersville, the 44,000-square-foot conference center can accommodate groups of 20 to 2,000 people, containing 15 interior rental spaces, the Cass Courtyard and Bartow Amphitheater.
"The Clarence Brown Conference Center is owned by Bartow County government," Wheeler said, adding there will be a public opening Oct. 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. that will include food, entertainment and tours of the building. "It is co-supported or co-funded, if you will, by Bartow County as well as the city of Cartersville. The Convention & Visitors Bureau will be the administrating organization for the conference center. So we will actually operate the conference center and within that will be the Visitor Information Center, which is a state, local welcome center."
When relocated, the Visitor Information Center will be open each Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The new site also will provide increased amenities for the CVB and its information center, such as designated parking, restroom facilities, free WiFi and digital destination marketing presentations in the lobby area.
With this latest development, the local CVB is consolidating its existing visitor centers in Cartersville and Adairsville.
"The state of the economy I think has made every business re-evaluate how they do business. We simply felt that money would be better spent truly in marketing, actually reaching out to visitors rather than those who've already arrived," Wheeler said. "We do have one center that serves the entire county. In consolidating the effort there, then we can actually contribute more money into advertising, marketing and truly sharing our destination with people outside Bartow County."
Even though the Adairsville Depot will cease to serve as a visitor center in the future, the building will remain open to the public since it also is home to the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum. After Saturday, Cartersville's Railroad Depot will be operated by the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority, which currently has an office on the building's third floor.
"We have expanded our role to include a downtown welcome center presence to promote all of Cartersville," said Liz Hood, executive director for the DDA. "The city, the DDA board and the merchants felt that with so many of the attractions that people come to see in Bartow County [being] in Cartersville that it was important to maintain a Cartersville Welcome Center."
Along with preparing to move its office to the main level, the DDA also is seeking a nonprofit to rent the third floor of the building. While the DDA staff can provide information to prospective tenants, the Cartersville City Council will make the final selection.
For more information about the CVB, call 770-387-1357 or visit www.notatlanta.org.