Raleigh, N.C., already hosts a lot of regional and association meetings, according to Martin Armes, director of communications and marketing for the Greater Raleigh CVB. But they have been out on larger meetings for two reasons: The existing Raleigh Convention and Conference Center is inadequate, and there’s no full-service hotel in walking distance to serve as convention headquarters. "We have an abundance of inquiries," says Armes. "But unfortunately we don’t have the facilities to accommodate them."

That may be about to change. Following a feasibility study by financial consultants KPMG, the commissioners of Wake County (where Raleigh is located) and city council have appointed a steering committee to investigate the next steps. The feasibility study recommended construction of a 410,000-square-foot center, and a full-service hotel with an adjoining 400- to 500-room hotel. "Planners like to have everything under one roof," Armes notes.

Although a convention center proposal was defeated in 1992, GRCVB officials feel the climate has changed. Among the signs – a food and beverage tax, instituted to fund projects that promote tourism, that could provide as much as $200 million toward the construction. The area has also seen some $400 in new capital construction in the past three years, including theaters, museums, and an entertainment and sports arena. The panel expects to report its findings in February or March 2003.