Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Area Guides
by: Norman Mayers

With nearly one million sq. ft., the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) reigns as the largest convention facility in the Pacific Northwest. The center offers 225,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, 50 meeting rooms, two grand ballrooms, full service catering and an 800-space, weather protected parking garage. The Portland Ballroom boasts 35,000 sq. ft. and is divisible into eight sections with a 16,000-sq. ft. lobby. The Oregon Ballroom provides 25,000 sq. ft. and is divisible into four sections.

The OCC is a certified green building with a LEED-EB Silver rating. Take the city's light rail for free directly to the center and the surrounding downtown hotels. In addition to the eco-friendly light rail, the convention center has many other green features. Large windows flood the hallways and lobbies with natural light, reducing the need for electricity. The innovative rain garden - designed to masquerade as an elegant water feature - actually scrubs pollutants from the rainwater that drains from the center's roof. The water moves through a cleansing series of waterfalls, settling ponds and native grasses before entering the Willamette River. Some extras to the OCC include lobbies and public spaces adorned with $2 million in artwork, two VIP suites overlooking their respective exhibit halls, high speed Internet connections and Wi-Fi throughout the building, and two Starbucks on site.

Another excellent venue in the city is the Portland Expo Center. The facility's five interconnected exhibit halls, each with unique characteristics, provide meeting planners with limitless possibilities. Eleven meeting rooms offer up to 7,500 sq. ft. of space. Just off the show floor, breakout rooms provide patrons a variety of configurations. Climate controls and lighting adjustments are also available.

Portland also boasts many impressive convention hotels that are ready to host your event. Oregon's largest convention hotel, the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower is situated just a short light rail ride away from the convention center. With 782 rooms and a 13,000-sq. ft. ballroom, this property is a great choice for hosting banquets and receptions. With 503 newly renovated guest rooms, more than 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 15,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall, the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront is a true meetings hotel. Eighty percent of the meeting rooms are located on the same level, allowing for a natural flow to any program.

Be sure to contact Roy Jay, president/CEO of the Oregon Convention & Visitor Services Network. He and his staff will provide you with all of the assistance you need to plan the most memorable event in the City of Roses.

African-Americans will find much to do in Portland, with a strong community present in the city. From the oldest charted chapter of the NAACP in the west to the numerous places of worship, Blacks will feel at home in Portland. The heart of the community can be found in the Albina District, home to many galleries, boutiques and restaurants boasting the depth and breadth of African-American heritage. Some restaurant choices include Lagniappe, Roux, Campbell's BBQ, and Clyde's Prime Rib Restaurant and Bar.

Air travel into Portland is through Portland International Airport (PDX).

Oregon Convention & Visitor Services Network
(503) 244-5794

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