Tuesday Talk: GWCC’s new $55 million exhibit hall open for business

Tuesday Talk rounds up the latest Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) news you might have missed and also points forward to upcoming events on our campus.

With a snip of over-sized scissors, the Georgia World Congress Center’s (GWCC) brand new $55 million expansion exhibit hall made its official debut today (Jan. 28).

On the show floor of the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo’s (IPPE) opening day, executives, GWCCA board members, legislators, contractors, and stakeholders gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of Exhibit Hall BC, a project completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Photo by Ashley Gilmer, GWCCA Multimedia Specialist.

“Today is very exciting for us and a culmination of at least five years of planning,” said Kevin Duvall, GWCCA’s Chief Operating Officer. “It was five years ago that we really began to lean into this project, to talk about the strategy, to talk about how we were going to seek support for this and then have our customers come to help us achieve this. As with any vision that you have, you gotta have support. And we have the support not only from our Board of Governors, (but also) the Governor’s office, our legislative overview committee, and the legislature to make this happen.”

As he alluded to, the project was financed by general obligation bonds approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

It’s called Exhibit Hall BC because it physically connects with exhibit halls in Buildings B and C and serves as a fixed passageway between. In doing so, it allows customers the flexibility to create more than 1 million square feet of contiguous exhibition space – in other words, one seamless, free-flowing gigantic exhibit hall, as IPPE currently has the space configured.

“Less than 18 months ago many of us gathered here to kick off the Congress Center’s first major expansion in 18 years,” said Bill Russell, Chairman of the GWCCA’s Board of Governors, referring to the project’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Frank Poe, our executive director, envisioned the Authority moving forward and he gave us the charge to not only grow using our current customers but also provide options for adding new customers that required more space. So, I’m here today to say that vision has been accomplished.”

Designed to match the aesthetics of Building B and C’s exhibit halls, the new 100,000-square-foot space feels like it’s always been there, but in fact, was built on top of former loading dock areas.

As envisioned, Exhibit Hall BC serves as a catalyst for next-level growth for the GWCCA campus.

“This is really a great day for Atlanta’s hospitality community because this Exhibit Hall BC is really a game-changer for our city to compete for the largest conventions right here in the country,” said William Pate, President and CEO of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I think it’s really appropriate that IPPE is here to be the first convention to use this because they’re an example of a great customer in Atlanta – as you can see, they’ve already filled up the Exhibit Hall BC.”

IPPE, which is utilizing more than 573,000 square feet of exhibit space throughout the GWCC, is using Exhibit Hall BC for its Event Zone, Innovation Station, Fuel Market food court, Exhibitor Lounge, Poultry Historical Museum, Customer Connection Center and more.

“We want to grow as they grow, and their convention continues to grow every year, and we want to keep it here in Atlanta,” continued Pate. “And in order to keep the largest conventions, we have to have the space to be able to serve them. And in addition to that, it also gives us the opportunity to now go after any conventions that were simply too large to come here to Atlanta. We now have 1.1 million square feet of contiguous space, we’re one of only the few convention halls in the country that have that. But now this puts us in a great competitive position.”

For more details about the Exhibit Hall BC project, check out GWCCA’s press release here.


And speaking of IPPE, the multi-faceted expo continues through Thursday (Jan. 30) in all three buildings of the GWCC, and the new annex. The world’s largest poultry, meat and feed industry event of its kind, IPPE features more than 1,360 exhibitors and expects to draw more 32,000 attendees from around the globe. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 29) and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 30).

The GWCCA’s 5K campus is ready for another road race, as the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, dubbed “America’s sweetest race,” returns Sunday (Feb. 2) to Centennial Olympic Park. Wave 1 begins at 7:30 a.m. and Wave 2 begins at 8:15 a.m.

Fresh off snagging a Grammy on Sunday, Tool brings its brand of progressive hard rock to our across-the-way neighbor State Farm Arena tonight (Jan. 28). Author & Punisher is also on the bill. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available via www.ticketmaster.com.