Primerica convention returns to Atlanta

By Lisa R. Schoolcraft
Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 17, 2010

Primerica Inc., which canceled its 2009 convention in Atlanta, plans to return in 2011.

The Duluth, Ga.-based insurer (NYSE: PRI) plans to host 50,000 attendees at its biennial convention June 15-18, 2011 at the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome.

"We're very happy to be announcing our convention," said Primerica co-CEO John Addison. "It's our first as our own Georgia-based company."

Addison made the announcement today along with members of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and GWCC.

Primerica, then a subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., canceled its 2009 "at the height of the financial melt down," Addison said. "It was also a time of massive scrutiny on incentive trips and conventions."

Citigroup (NYSE: C) took a $45 billion bailout as financial markets took a nose dive in late 2008.
But since that time, Citigroup spun off Primerica into its own company, which went public April 1.

"For us, this is a monumental convention, because we are no longer a subsidiary of anyone," Addison said.

The convention is expected to have an economic impact of $57.8 million, ACVB officials predict.

"At one of our workshops, we may have 10,000 to 11,000 people, and we have three or four of those workshops going on simultaneously," Addison said, noting the convention will take up nearly all of the space at the GWCC and the dome.

"We always try to take care of our customers, and Primerica is a long-time customer," said William Pate, president and CEO of the ACVB. "We all know the situation the financial [institutions] were in last year. We felt that when things settled down, they would be back."

Primerica has been holding its biennial conventions in Atlanta since 1993, Pate said.

The projected attendance for the Primerica event constitutes a "city-wide" convention, Pate said, meaning hotel occupancy gets pushed well beyond the GWCC-area hotels.

To put it in perspective, Primerica's economic impact will be double that of the annual Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, he said.

Primerica also represents one of the business sectors — financial institutions — the ACVB has been targeting.

"Financials have been noticeably absent lately," he said, "but as they recover, it is a great opportunity for us to recover that."

The attendance "will depend on the economy," Addison said. "Our people pay their own way, and they are coming from all over the United States."

But the convention is "an important and critical part of how we build our company," he said. "It is critical to build our distribution systems."