$3.4M to lure cov­eted Out­door shows

Colorado and Den­ver each to pay mil­lions in in­cen­tive pack­age to re­lo­cate con­ven­tions from Salt Lake City.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Aldo Svaldi

Colorado will ante up $1.7 mil­lion to the Out­door Re­tailer Show — match­ing the $1.7 mil­lion from Visit Den­ver — un­der an in­cen­tive pack­age of­fered for the re­lo­ca­tion of three large con­ven­tions from Salt Lake City to Den­ver.

The Colorado Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion this week for­mally ap­proved the cash award, which is com­ing out of the state’s strate­gic fund and is con­tin­gent on three out­door re­tail con­ven­tions com­ing to Den­ver each of the next five years.

“The state nor­mally wouldn’t get in­volved in fi­nanc­ing a trade show,” said Luis Ben­itez, the head of the Colorado Out­door Recre­ation In­dus­try Of­fice.

But each show is ex­pected to bring in 20,000 to 25,000 at­ten­dees, with the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate $45 mil­lion each in di­rect and indi­rect eco­nomic ben­e­fits, Ben­itez said.

And the shows are ex­pected to boost the state’s rep­u­ta­tion as a hub for the out­door recre­ation in­dus­try, which in turn has the po­ten­tial to bring com­pany re­lo­ca­tions and

boost the econ­omy in ru­ral parts of the state, he said.

Emer­ald Ex­po­si­tions, which owns the three shows, will re­ceive the money to cover costs as­so­ci­ated with re­lo­cat­ing the shows af­ter a two-decade run in Salt Lake City. Utah of­fi­cials had said, at least in pub­lic, that it was will­ing to pro­vide $1 mil­lion to re­tain the shows.

Mov­ing to Den­ver came with added costs, hence the larger in­cen­tive pack­age. The ex­tra pay­out is at­trib­uted to the trans­port of large amounts of equip­ment now parked in Utah; la­bor tied to union­ized con­ven­tion cen­ter work­ers in Den­ver; and mar­ket­ing to at­tract vis­i­tors to the new venue.

An­other big ex­pense cen­ters on reschedul­ing al­ready booked con­ven­tions. Visit Den­ver, which is cur­rently book­ing 10 years out, needed to jug­gle the sched­ule some to add the shows, said pres­i­dent and CEO Richard Scharf. Visit Den­ver over­sees the Colorado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

Nor­mally, a group that makes a late book­ing for a con­ven­tion would cover the costs as­so­ci­ated with bump­ing an­other group, as­sum­ing the other party could ac­com­mo­date the move.

“We have strong re­la­tion­ships with our cus­tomers,” Scharf said. “But it doesn’t hurt to of­fer them an in­cen­tive.”

The state money will be dis­trib­uted over the next two fis­cal years, while Visit Den­ver’s money will be paid out over five years. A por­tion of those dis­tri­bu­tions will be con­tin­gent on the abil­ity of Emer­ald to meet tar­gets for at­ten­dance and ho­tel room book­ings.

The three shows in­clude a com­bined Out­door Re­tailer-SnowS­ports In­dus­tries Amer­ica Snow Show in Jan­uary, a summer show in June and a win­ter show in Novem­ber.

“We don’t an­tic­i­pate them go­ing any­where af­ter year five,” Scharf said.

In other in­cen­tive awards, the Colorado Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion of­fered $22.7 mil­lion to two Bay Area com­pa­nies look­ing at bring­ing a com­bined 1,417 jobs to Den­ver County.

A fi­nan­cial lender is look­ing at Colorado, Ari­zona and Utah as lo­ca­tions for 1,027 jobs pay­ing an an­nual av­er­age wage of $94,182. An­other travel in­dus­try tech­nol­ogy com­pany is look­ing at lo­ca­tions in Den­ver, Utah and Ore­gon to con­sol­i­date 390 new jobs from Mex­ico and the Bay Area. Those jobs would pay an av­er­age $105,000 a year.

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