24 February 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Administrator

Ilani to launch new event center on April 1

The Cowlitz Tribe was far from finished with the $510 million Ilani Casino Resort when it first opened the venue to visitors in April 2017 – and the newest part of the project could be a boon to Clark County’s business sector.

The Ridgefield facility plans to launch its 22,000-square-foot Event Center on April 1, close to the one-year anniversary of the casino opening. The center, which includes high ceilings, flexible air walls, a separate concourse for entry and a host of other amenities, could be an ideal draw for business conferences. And marketing staff has already started working on getting the word out to the broader community, said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of Ilani.

“We are recruiting our sales team now,” Fox-LaRose said. “We also have a marketing team that’s been working for several months on messaging.”

The center can fit 2,500 guests in a conference, or about 800 guests if used as banquet space. The space is fully carpeted, capable of hosting luncheon or dinner events and associated catering, wired for sound and also has an elevated stage for entertainment and concerts.

“Really it is one of the largest venues of its kind in the area,” Fox-LaRose said. “We have the opportunity to work with lots of business groups.”

To reach out, Ilani has started work on its advertising campaign for print, television and on the Web. Marketing staff has also been hitting the road, looking for live events where it can spread the word, and also reaching out to business groups in the region through various chambers of commerce, Fox-LaRose said.

“We’re working with local business, travel and tourism groups, the chambers,” she said. “We’ll also attend some of the events happening locally that make sense for us to set up a booth.”

Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River economic Development Council (CREDC), said he thinks the space will dovetail nicely with other options in Clark County and Greater Portland. And with sectors like construction, manufacturing and software looking at strong growth in the future, it’s likely the space will be put to good use, he said.

“The opening of the Ilani Meeting and Entertainment Center will be a great complement to the existing event spaces available in Clark County,” Bomar said. “This is another great example of the exciting growth we’re seeing take place throughout the Discovery Corridor.”

Along with valet parking and a private entrance, the center – and the casino – will also soon have a lot more parking than the sometimes packed 3,000 spaces it currently has.

“In the coming weeks we’ll be paving what has been used as a construction lot,” Fox-LaRose said. “We’ll be paving that, adding lighting and adding that as additional parking.”

The event center and parking lot construction is part of the original $510 million project and has been planned for some time, she added.

“The shell (for the event center) was built along with phase 1, so this is kind of phase 1a,” Fox-LaRose said. “We wanted to make sure first we got the casino and restaurants and shops as part of phase 1. But this was part of the original vision.”

One thing the marketing staff hopes to emphasize along with the Event Center is the dining options provided by the casino’s array of restaurants, including outdoor dining with a view of the mountains. Those sorts of amenities are a good draw for business groups that may want to have smaller private meetings – or simply enjoy their evening after a convention is finished, Fox- LaRose said.

“Whether you’re attending a meeting, whether it be a luncheon or dinner event, once you’ve explored that event, you have the ability to engage in other activity,” Fox-LaRose said.

Some of those activities include performances by local bands, dining, boutique shops and five feature bars.
All those options make the Event Center a draw for a wide array of meetings, along with other events like weddings or other social gatherings, she said.

“We’re set up for anything from a small meeting, social event, to a big meeting, conventions,” Fox-LaRose said.

The Event Center and parking lot are not the end of the development. Officials are also discussing a hotel, tobacco outlet and gas station, and some additional office space at the 152-acre site.

“We’ll be looking at a hotel,” Fox-LaRose said. “We’ll have room needs onsite. But in the meantime we’re working with other businesses in the area to fill those needs.”

The Cowlitz Tribe wants to build and operate the hotel itself, rather than contracting it out, she added.
“The idea would be for the Cowlitz Tribe to build the hotel,” Fox-LaRose said. “We want to make sure we build to the right size and meet our needs.”

With the Waterfront Development Project and a host of economic development work across the region, Fox-LaRose said she’s excited to find new ways for Ilani to work with the business sector and make the new Event Center as versatile as possible.

“The growth of the area will benefit all of us,” Fox-LaRose said. “I think it’s important for us to explore opportunities together.”

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