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By James Zoltak
The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando was among the first convention centers to return to hosting events after the coronavirus pandemic dealt a blow to in-person entertainment, meetings and trade shows and the facilities that host them.
By summer of 2020, the nation’s second largest convention center — which since January of 2020 has been led by Executive Director Mark Tester, formerly of the Austin (Texas) Convention Center — got back to business and in 2021 has been picking up steam, with over 100 events staged since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than 50 contracted through year’s end.
The OCCC was one of the first convention centers to achieve Global Biorisk Advisory Council Star accreditation in 2020, and in 2021 was the first, after a year of safely hosting events, to be reaccredited.
The facility, which has put ambitious expansion plans on hold in light of the COVID-19 disruption, works with event organizers to develop health and safety protocols that take into account the guidelines of agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the practical needs of facility users.
The efforts have paid off. The OCCC hosted 10 events and over 150,000 attendees in July alone, generating an estimated $230 million-plus in economic impact.