Friday, November 5, 2010

Library Brings Big Bucks to Natchez

It's true that the City taxpayors partially fund our Library. However, the Library also brings money into the City. How? Here's the story.

Our beautiful Convention Center opened very shortly after I became the Director here in 2002, When another library director called me to congratulate me on the job and offer assistance, if I should need it, I immediately mentioned the new Convention Center to her, as she was the person responsible for planning the next year’s Mississippi Library Association (MLA) conference. The 2003 conference was already planned, but the following year’s was not!

Representatives from our Convention Center attended the 2003 Conference and sold Natchez to MLA - and plans were begun for the 2004 MLA Conference to be held in Natchez.

MLA membership numbers over 500, and generally 300 or so people (members, exhibitors, speakers, etc.) attend their conferences. The conferences generally run Wednesday through Friday. In 2004, we planned an event for Tuesday evening. This meant people were in town an extra day – eating in our restaurants and sleeping in our hotels. What an economic impact!

That year we hosted an excellent, well-attended, successful conference. People love coming to Natchez!

We were able to bring MLA to Natchez again in 2008. Again, we provided an event on Tuesday evening, and conference goers had a wonderful time.

This year’s conference was held two weeks ago in Vicksburg. Next year we are committed to holding the conference in Jackson. But – guess what? MLA will be back in Natchez in 2012! We'll be here the week following Balloon Races.

Nancy McLemore, director of the Library at CoLin, and I have worked together the past two conferences to make the events the wonderful successes they have been – and plan to do so again. As we get closer to the planning stages, we may call on local businesses to provide assistance. We are looking for a new, entertaining event to hold on Tuesday evening again.

If the economic impact of one conference is about $350,000, think of the money the Armstrong Library brought to the City of Natchez in 2004 and 2008! And looking to bring again in 2012! The Library is responsible for bringing over a million dollars to Natchez!

We always enjoy showing off our City, and the work involved in bringing a conference to Natchez is rewarding -  especially when people appreciate the efforts made and everyone benefits. We hope we are able to continue bringing MLA conferences to Natchez.