Late in the 1990s, San Jose did not have a keen interest in hosting the 3,000-person general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “There wasn't much incentive for the city to book conventions that far out or to commit large room blocks,” says Deborah Davies, manager of assembly services for the Louisville, Ky., organization. But once the dot-com boom went bust, things changed. “The city came up with an attractive package for us, subsidizing the convention center rent and working ...

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