Hotel concerns prompt SkillsUSA to relocate conference

Hotel concerns prompt SkillsUSA to relocate conference

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A big convention in Louisville will finish out its contract, and then it will be off to another city.

SkillsUSA is a national organization made up of teachers and students preparing for technical careers and occupations.

Thousands have been in town all week participating in competitions.

SkillsUSA Executive Director Timothy Lawrence said hotels and transportation are the two biggest factors why the organization will be switching locations in 2021. He said if it were just up to the facilities at the Kentucky Fair & Expo Center it would stay put.

More than 17,000 people have brought $14 million into the Greater Louisville economy this week as part of the Skills USA conference.
"We moved here from Kansas City after 21 years to expand our program and have room to grow, and we've been thrilled with the hospitality here in Louisville," Lawrence said.

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That hospitality will end after year 2020, however, because the organization has decided to move its national gathering to Atlanta, a city that will give SkillsUSA even more room to grow, but in a less spread out area.

"The primary reason for Atlanta is that within a 10-block radius, they have eight hotels that will house 8,000 people," Lawrence said.

Right now, participants are occupying 7,000 rooms in 42 different hotels across the city and in Southern Indiana.

Some students from California are staying at Horseshoe Casino, a commute that has gotten tiring according to Ian Carney.

"Actually, it's terrible because the buses are supposed to be here every 15-to-30 minutes, but they actually take like two hours," Carney said. "Having to be across the river and almost 20 miles away, it's no fun."

Lawrence said SkillsUSA will actually save more than $250,000 by moving the conference to Georgia because right now it is spending more than $500,000 on bus transportation traveling to all the different hotels.

In Atlanta the majority of students will be able to walk to all activities.

"That would probably be the most amazing thing to see because everyone can kind of socialize, it's not like, 'Ok we are going to go to our hotel and I'll never see you again,'" Nicole Edlauer, a student from California, said.

SkillsUSA said the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau has been great to work with and understands the organization's concerns.

SkillsUSA will remain in Louisville for the next four years.

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