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The Springfield Police Department alone brought three meetings to the city last year

by Kristin Kubitschek

Many Springfield meetings and conventions, including sporting events and military reunions, are a result of a local member of an organization inquiring with the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau about the possibility of holding the event in Springfield.

The Springfield Police Department is a case in point they've been instrumental in bringing three meetings to Springfield within the last year: the Missouri Gang Investigators, the FBI Academy and the Missouri Law Enforcement Conference.

Police Chief Lynn Rowe said that he is proud of the city and considers this an opportunity to showcase the area to his peers. Rowe points out that free time is a part of almost every conference, and people want an interesting area with good entertainment options. Springfield is a clean, safe city with many attractions and is just a short drive from Branson.

According to Rowe, "It is a natural to bring your meeting to Springfield. We have so many offerings, and every dime spent in Springfield ultimately comes back to support the city."

Linda Montgomery, Greene County recorder of deeds, is also helping to support the city we live and work in. Last year, Montgomery brought the Recorders Association of Missouri to Springfield for the first time in its 10-year history.

Montgomery said "Springfield is an excellent location, very easy to get around in, with a lot of attractions." The inexpensive accommodations were very appealing to the Recorders Association membership, as was the number and variety of restaurants, since many of the attendees are from smaller areas with less selection.

"Our group was very pleased with the eating places, shopping and excellent accommodations," Montgomery said.

Lake Country Soccer hosts several tournaments a year and will be in St. Louis with CVB staff later this month to bid on the 2001 U.S. Youth Soccer Association's Region II Tournament.

Sandi Hendricks, administrative director for Lake Country Soccer, said her tournament participants and spectators are very pleased with Springfield.

"We are thought of as a very accepting, friendly, outgoing community with a diversity of interests plus we have a natural environment," she said.

Event delegates give high marks to the Ozarks' hospitality, safety and friendliness, as well as the ease of driving and free parking. "We're not so big that we're a threat," Hendricks said.

Chief Rowe has also had positive feedback from his meeting delegates.

"People are continually amazed and go away with a 'wow' attitude," he said. Springfield offers the features his groups are interested in everything from great meeting facilities to attractions that appeal to a variety of interests.

"We're so blessed here," Hendricks said. "There's a great cooperative effort in the whole community the mayor, the Park Board, the Police, the CVB everyone is so cooperative, and I think it is a very unique situation. Other cities and communities don't work together."

Rowe also compliments the "fantastic assistance from the CVB," which helped make his events easier to coordinate and run smoother. "

They are literally an integral part," Hendricks said, "it would be impossible to secure that number of rooms, there just aren't enough hours in the day, and they know how to do this they're good."

The CVB is here to assist with the planning of these events and offers a variety of additional services. CVB staff can coordinate dates and other details with local hotel/motel properties, as well as prepare initial bid proposals, conduct site visits and arrange official city welcomes.

It can also provide registration assistance, news releases, pre-convention fliers, contact names, and Springfield maps and photos.

For qualifying groups, the bureau can provide shuttle service, centralized housing and a hospitality information booth. Most of these services can be provided at no cost to the group or its members.

Rowe realizes that Springfield may not be right for every group, but he still recommends that people look into the possibilities of bringing their group to Springfield, "Don't rule it out until you sit down with one of the CVB staff. They're extremely helpful and able to work small miracles."

Rowe is also very complimentary of the area hotels in meeting his group's needs. With the new E-Plex and the coming expo center, Springfield will be able to accommodate even larger groups than in the past.

Call the CVB at 881-5300 to discuss your group's needs with the sales staff.

(Kristin Kubitschek is communications coordinator for the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

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