July 14, 2024 12:24 PM
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Georgia’s 2nd Largest Convention Center Marks 20th Year Open

By Caitlin Howle, Exhibit City News

It has been twenty years since the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) opened its doors. On June 9, 2003, nearly 2,000 individuals, including members of the hospitality profession, elected officials, and the public, were all accompanied by an all-out theatrical display to celebrate the center’s grand opening.

As Exhibit City News reported in 2003, it was called “Shaniziogeoplis,” a blend of Swahili, Greek, and Latin root words that translates to the “world-class opening of a fabulous place.” While it’s no longer in its heyday, it still shines as an event venue with more to offer than ever before. Over the years, it has grown, adapted to new technologies, and thrived as a space that allows the GICC to be a destination, not just a convention center.

The logistics of the GICC are vast. The GICC is Georgia’s second-largest convention center, boasting 400,000 square feet of space and the largest ballroom in all of Georgia. That ballroom can also be divided into eight individual salons, sitting at 40,000 square feet. For exhibitors, there is 150,000 square feet of space.

What makes the GICC exceptional is that, in the past two decades, it has connected to the Atlanta airport via the free ATLSkytrain. This expansion happened in 2008, and the GICC is the only convention center in the world that is “directly connected to a major airport.” Even with that accolade, the GICC remains in a prime location, only ten minutes from downtown Atlanta. Remarkably, despite its proximity to the airport and the ATLSkytrain, the GICC is remarkably quiet due to its flat-roof design.

The GICC sits on what is known as Gateway Campus, which continues to grow and expand around the convention center, making it a prime location for events. This campus currently hosts four hotels, with two under construction. The hotels are LEED-certified, echoing the GICC’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact. The hotels house 8,000 hotel rooms, all available for exhibitors and attendees.

Continuing with the expansion of GICC, in 2019, the Gateway Center Arena was launched, which became home to the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, as well as the NBA G League team, the College Park Skyhawks. Most recently, the Historic College Park Golf Course was incorporated under the GICC umbrella after being part of the City of College Park’s Parks & Recreation Department, making the GICC a truly one-stop destination.

The Georgia International Convention Center has also successfully achieved GBAC Star Facility Accreditation, giving the GICC recognition as a space with a “superior ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from biorisk and infectious disease situations,” proving it is one of the best facilities for a conference in the post-pandemic world. This is only one of the initiatives that has continued to propel the GICC forward, showing their dedication to their attendees. The facility also features a full-time security team and has its own team that can aid in staging services, including an on-site carpentry shop.

The GICC has also increased its use of technology, with high-speed WiFi made possible through fiber optics, available throughout the center. It keeps the center up-to-date on modern presentation technologies and ensures meeting rooms are as technologically accessible as possible for all presenters.

Through their continued partnership with Proof of the Pudding, the convention center offers exceptional dining capabilities from an award-winning culinary team. Also, most recently, the campus introduced new and enhanced parking services through ParkMobile, which continues their dedication to new technologies. Currently, the partnership can cater up to 4,000 meals at one time.

With the past two decades behind it, the Georgia International Convention Center has continued to evolve. Its current iteration is a modern and dynamic facility, adapting to the evolving needs of the event industry. With each passing year, the GICC continues to solidify its reputation as one of the best.

As Mercedes Miller, Executive Director, said, “2023 has been a year of celebration as we reflect on the past two decades in our current facility. We are immensely grateful to our dedicated staff, as well as our loyal clients, vendors, and community partners, who have all contributed to our success over the years. We are inspired by this significant milestone and look forward to continued growth in the next 20 years.”

Here’s to another 20 years and then some, Georgia International Convention Center!

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