Major Player Returns to City

Group's 2011 Atlanta convention expected to generate $58 million.

By Leon Stafford
The Atlanta Journal‑Constitution, June 18, 2010

Financial services provider Primerica will return its 50,000‑person annual convention to Atlanta next June after a two‑year absence, bringing with it a projected $58 million economic impact.

Primerica, which emerged in April as an independent company after separating from Citigroup, will use the Georgia Dome and the entire 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space at the Georgia World Congress Center for its June 15‑18, 2011, convention.

The Duluth‑based group had been meeting biennially in Atlanta since 1993, providing the largest corporate gathering in the city.

“It is a very exciting moment for us as a company,” said John Addison, Primerica co‑chief executive officer, at a Thursday news conference to announce the meeting's return. “[It's] been an incredibly exciting year for Primerica. On April 1 we re‑founded our company and became a Georgia‑based public company.”

Primerica was to meet at the GWCC last June, but the meeting was canceled by Citigroup in the face of the recession and a backlash against spending by big Wall Street banks.

The loss of the convention and an anticipated $55 million economic impact further depressed the city's $11 billion hospitality industry, which already was suffering from a drop in leisure visitors, conventioneers and corporate travelers.

This year's convention trade, however, has been revitalized, with hotel occupancy up 4 percent through April over the same period a year ago, which are the most recent numbers available.

Frank Poe, new GWCC executive director, said the return of the Primerica meeting next year would help the center boost revenue and address a projected $1.5 million loss for fiscal 2011.

William Pate, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau president, welcomed the news, indicating that while hospitality leaders have enjoyed a buoyant 2010, it had been unclear whether 2011 would be as robust.

“For those of you who follow our industry closely, you know that 2010 is going to be an excellent year in the city,” Pate said. “Two thousand and eleven is also pacing very well, but not as strong as 2010, so this will be a very significant addition to the roster.”