As I approach the completion of my first 90 days as the General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, and as a new member of this community, there is already a lot to reflect on. The first three months have been a whirlwind of events and getting out into the community to meet our clients and those in the area who hold influence over the future direction of this great city. As someone coming in, looking upon Erie with fresh eyes, there are several things I’ve observed that perhaps may remind longtime residents of what a great place Erie is to work and live.
There has been a tremendous amount of support and a genuine welcoming air as I’ve made my way around the community. The question I’m most often asked is “What made you choose to come to Erie?” This is often the case in many communities as we are usually our own biggest critics. If you too have wondered the same thing, let me walk you through some of the things that brought my family and me here and what has since solidified that decision for me over the last three months.
I’ve worked in and visited hotels and convention centers around the country and was honestly astounded by the Bayfront Complex as I drove into Erie for the first time. I know what visitors and major convention planners are looking for, and we truly have it all on the Bayfront. The architecture, the views and the proximity to shopping and local entertainment venues have turned what was once an industrial area into a tourism and convention mecca in the Mid-Atlantic region. The best part is our long-range plan includes so much more. The further development associated with the Bayfront Place plan will only strengthen our place as a serious convention destination and something both locals and visitors can enjoy together.
In addition to the prospect of selling a topnotch convention complex, the quality of life as a resident was a tremendous factor in our decision to choose Erie. Like any other community, Erie has its challenges. As a new resident, I can tell you there is a strong core of optimistic community leaders and influences who are looking to take this community to another level, and in the process, work to address many of the opportunities any city faces. If you have the chance, I urge you to educate yourself and get personally involved in being part of the solution. Of particular interest is the collaborative effort related to the Erie Refocused project of which our current and future Bayfront plan is a key element.
While the community works together to address these areas, we are already blessed with entertainment and beaches only matched by cities at least twice our size. The warmer weather is sure to bring a multitude of ways to enjoy the bay and beaches and all the festivals and events that go with it. If that wasn’t enough, we at Erie Events operate venues that ensure residents and tourists have access to great national and local entertainment throughout the year.
When I think back to all the times I’ve been asked “Why did you choose Erie?” I can honestly say “Why not?!”