VALDOSTA -- For visitors to Valdosta, finding the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center can be a challenge, especially if they are driving down Interstate 75.

From the interstate, all visitors see is the back of the center, and there is no sign on or near the center to tell visitors what the building is--but there will be soon.

Martin Brown, chief operating officer of the Conference Center, said the Conference Center and Tourism Authority Board is looking into having signage erected at the edge of the property by the interstate.

The basic design calls for a sign 55 feet tall by 28 feet wide and would feature a large LED scrolling display to showcase events at the center. "For pass-through traffic, it will promote our events so that drivers along the interstate might stop. It also raises awareness of the center for meeting planners and conference attendees."

The board is studying the feasibility of adding advertising space for sponsors on the sign as well. "We are considering making this a joint venture with other businesses to see if it makes economic sense," Brown said. The board is considering partnering with up to three area businesses which would attach their logos to the sign. The cost for the joint advertising would also help offset the cost of the sign, an estimated $100,000 to $125,000.

However, Brown considers it a small price to pay to have a way to guide visitors to the center. Brown said the Board has already contacted a number of businesses in town and is hoping to finalize a decision by the end of the year.

Although some might wonder why signage wasn't put into place four years ago when the center opened, Brown said at the time there were more pressing concerns in simply trying to get the center open.

Now that the center has been operating consistently well for a couple of years and is beginning to attract larger meetings and events, the Board felt it was time to raise the visibility of the center.

Brown said the Board is also considering attaching signage to the building itself and is looking at potentially adding a scrolling sign at the entrance to the center on Norman Drive.

Construction on the sign is expected to begin in early spring.

Brown said there are a number of exciting things in the works for the conference center, including a possible expansion of the parking lot and a VFW monument which will include a memorial walkway.

"We're having a very good year. We've had a lot of success this year bringing in new businesses, and we have a very aggressive budget, but we're very confident we'll make it," he said.



To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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