ORLANDO, Fla. — For months, parts of the Orange County Convention Center were transformed into mass coronavirus testing and vaccination sites to help serve the community during the pandemic, treating thousands of people on a daily basis.
Those sites are now closed as Florida returns to normalcy, and major events return.
What You Need To Know
- 2021 events at the OCCC expect to bring in around $1.5 billion to the Orange County economy
- The convention center expects to hit its pre-pandemic average of about 170 events per year by 2022
- The OCCC is currently hiring for part-time employees, and will hire for full-time employees later this year
Convention center leadership said in March 2020, they were on pace for the best year yet. But that quickly came to a halt, as conventions around the country were canceled or postponed.
Now, more than a year later, one of the largest convention centers in the nation is seeing a rampup back to a full calendar of events.
Veterinarian Clara Goh flew in from Colorado to teach at VMX 2021 at the Orange County Convention Center, which also had a virtual option this year.
“Helping owners and the veterinarians to diagnose and treat orthopedic conditions in dogs," Goh said about what she is teaching this year.
She feels safe again sharing her passion, in person, with the safety precautions in place. Goh said upwards of 50% of dogs injure both of their knees during their lives.
“Being able to be here face to face again and have that interaction and contact is huge," Goh said.
The convention center officials are working with each event to see if they are using extra safety precautions.
At VMX, guests are going through thermal temperature screens, among other safety precautions, to make sure they are not running a fever.
So far, 14 events are scheduled for June, with 83 throughout the rest of the year, with an expected $1.5 billion economic impact on Orange County.
“We’re absolutely blessed to be back, but don’t want to take for granted based on what we’ve seen this past year," OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester said.
The convention center expects to hit its pre-pandemic average of about 170 events per year by 2022.
“The exhibitors that are coming to this have all left saying my return on investment was outstanding. I’ve got more business than I’ve gotten in other years," Tester said.
UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Associate Dean Robertico Croes said business travel is bouncing back faster than expected, and conventions have a ripple effect on our economy.
“That’s a group of people with a profile that are larger spenders than leisure travelers," the professor said, who went on to say, “We’re talking about restaurants, transportation, amenities.”
Croes said that demand is up thanks to higher consumer confidence and the vaccine rollout.
The site of VMX 2021 is where thousands of vaccines were dolled out at the OCCC for months.
“It’s the biggest event so far this industry has seen, this time of the year," North American Veterinary Community CEO Gene O'Neill went on to say, “The end result is really, how best to care for your pets, and that’s what we’re trying to get across here.”
If you aqre looking for a job, the convention center is currently hiring around 150 part-time employees.
The OCCC will also be posting around 80 full-time positions in October 2021.