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Keith McCord ReportingAs you know, Utah has responded in a big way to help out the areas affected by the hurricane. Tons of food and relief supplies have been sent out and our state has welcomed in several hundred of the displaced residents. And the aid doesn't stop there.
The Salt Palace Convention Center hosts dozens of conventions each year, bringing in millions of tourist dollars. Well, New Orleans is a city big on tourism and conventions too, or at least it was.
The convention business is alive and well in Salt Lake City. Ten-thousand people are in town this week attending the USANA Convention. One of many large meetings held here every year. But the same can't be said for New Orleans. With the city still waterlogged, the convention centers there are ruined; so are the hotels.
Meetings and conventions planned long ago, now have to move.
Scott Beck, CEO, Salt Lake Conv. & Visitors Bureau: "The meeting planning industry is a big industry and it's also a small industry, and everybody knows everybody. And there's a wonderful sense of camaraderie and a wonderful sense of what can we do to help New Orleans?"
Other cities are lending a helping hand too, looking for open dates in their facilities. This is quite a challenge because large meetings are scheduled years in advance and the dates are locked in.
"They're not calling and saying we want to come to salt lake sometime in August. They're calling and saying we need November 98th through the 16th of 2005. So you have space?"
Turns out, Salt Lake does! The convention bureau has agreed to take on two large meetings already and there may be as many as 11 more that will come here.