Grand Wayne Center hits record for income

January 25, 2019

The Grand Wayne Convention Center ended 2018 with record income from room rentals and catering commissions.

The numbers were disclosed during Thursday morning’s meeting of the Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board, which oversees the facility.

For the first time, meeting room rental fees exceeded 1,082,000 said Bart Shaw, Grand Wayne executive director. Catering brought in $633,000, he said.

Both income figures represented increases of about 20 percent over 2017, Shaw said.

He attributed the increases not to more conventions but to “a couple of big conventions” and repeat business upping spending.

He also said the Grand Wayne staff had done “an excellent job” at recruiting fill-in business such as weddings and private and corporate parties, between larger events.

“It’s all about building relationships over time,” Shaw said. “Our AV (audiovisual) team is used (more) all the time, and the (downtown) Hilton has done great things from a catering perspective. And when you do those things, and do them right, people will see value in that.”

Annual expenses were down $231,000 through better management of personnel, he said.

Grand Wayne saw about 52 conventions in 2018, about the same as in previous years, but “the quality is better,” Shaw said, in that attendees are more interested in interacting with people and attractions in Fort Wayne.

A 2018 annual report was not available Thursday. 

For 2019, Shaw said, Grand Wayne is embarking on two upgrades : a lighting project and replacing the security desk.

In other business, the board re-elected James Cook as president, Ben Eisbart as vice president and Yogi Parikh as treasurer. Don Steininger was elected secretary, replacing Steve Brody, who moved from Allen County and resigned from the board last year.

Board members welcomed Bob Walters to succeed Brody. Walters is an attorney with Barrett McNagny, Fort Wayne, and a board member of the Downtown Development Trust. 


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