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Jewels within a Region


When organizations convene in Ocean City,Maryland, there is more than saltwater in the air. Excitement and fun prevail along 10 miles of free beaches,a three-mile boardwalk and stunning ocean and bayside views to write home about. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center was created for events of any size, from small conferences to large trade shows.With 214,000-square feet of useable space,it is a planner’s dream - both indoors and outside.


“We have 10,000 hotel rooms in a range of prices, 4,000 year-round committable group rooms and 25,000 condo rentals,” exclaims direc- tor of sales and marketing for the convention center and the Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau, R. Frederick Wise, CHAE. “Organizations select our area for many reasons. There is always something to do. We have an impressive calendar of events from January through December, including Springfest, an air show, white marlin show, the Seaside Boat Show and much more.”


February brought 6,000 kids to the resort town for the regional Council on Youth Ministries convention featuring Christian rock stars. “This group fills our spaces,” says Wise. “They like Ocean City because of its major highway accessibility and reasonable off-season hotel rates. Along with our hospitality partners,we solicited this and comparable events through RCMA (Religious Conference Management Association). Businesses, including Trimpers Rides, Planet Maze and Lasertron, as well as restaurants, both chains and independents, opened just for them.”


The PAC is the Place


The Roland E. Powell Convention Center celebrated the grand opening of its Performing Arts Center earlier this winter. What used to be a 15,000- square-foot room set on a concrete floor is now a state-of-the-art auditori- um and stage. Among the highlights are two tiers of 1,200 seats, a conces- sion area, dressing rooms and box office. In addition to music and theatri- cal performances, the PAC is ideally designed to enhance seminars, power point presentations, corporate confer- ences and nonprofit events.


46 March  April 2015


“Another big winter event,” continues Wise, “is Seaside Boat Show. Produced by our local Optimist Club, 100 percent of the proceeds go to scholarships. Regarded as the number one indoor boat showon the Eastern Shore, it features 350 boats and more than 140 exhibitors. Whether it’s a hometown trade show or large corporate conference, we are popular because there is so much to do during breaks and off- time. We have 18 nearby championship golf courses, free tennis courts, deep sea fishing, boating, every water sport imaginable and lots of shopping and nightlife.”


Faith-based organizations are as fond of the mountains as the ocean. Dave Jackson,vice president of sales for the Pocono Mountains,notes they are nearly neck-and-neck with family reunions for attendance in and around the 2,400-square mile resort region. “Corporate, associa- tion and sports-related groups balance out our list of bookings. If a planner wants a resort in Pennsylvania, our four counties - Pike, Monroe,Wayne and Carbon - are home to 80 percent of them. People like the solitude and nature of the Poconos. It’s a remote location,yet so easy to get to from Canada to DC.”


This is why Church of God held its annual The Feast of Tabernacles in the Pocono Mountains. Families stayed in cabins and private homes, as well as commercial lodgings. Jewish Heritage family-based groups prefer the Poconos,as well. Participants require kosher food and sep- arate activity areas for men and women. Their needs are easily met.


Another draw is the wealth of teambuilding prospects. Frompaintball to NASCAR experiences,cooking competitions to zip line challenges, bird watching to whitewater rafting, there are endless innovations for


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