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The Heart of International Drive

Explore the Economic Impact and Community Benefits of the Orange County Convention Center

The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) remains steadfast in its mission of economic development. The vison is for Orange County to have the healthiest and most robust economy in the nation. By hosting regional, national and international conventions, meetings and trade shows, the Center stimulates and infuses the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities. As The Center of Hospitality, the OCCC is customer-service focused, relationship driven and innovative, while actively engaging with its employees, clients and stakeholders.

In recent years, the Center provided approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually. The OCCC has averaged nearly 200 events, including 115 conventions and tradeshows that attract more than 1.5 million attendees to the region each year.


OCCC Long-Time Employees and History


Expert Industry Insight

Link to the Event Updates Page

Sherrif Karamat

President/CEO of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)
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Sherrif Karamat, CAE

President/CEO of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

“Over the last 50 years, Convention Centers have become known as key economic drivers in cities globally. This has resulted in a highly competitive landscape with cities around the world building state of the art facilities and operating on various business models to attract conventions and business events to their cities. While COVID has severely restricted larger events such as conventions and tradeshows, as these events return, event organizers will be looking to cities and centers to provide omnichannel options. They will also be looking to cities and centers to play a greater role in helping to develop the business of the event organizer in the local community and potentially share in the risk/rewards of the event.

Various reasons may result in why convention centers are flexible in negotiations including seasonality, supply versus demand, and the list goes on. Legacy models have long been tied to the hospitality sectors however increasingly, cities are recognizing the role that conventions and tradeshows play as a catalyst for growth in numerous sectors. Thus, convention centers may be prepared to be more flexible in pricing models and contracts for events that are more aligned with the economic priorities of the city and less flexible to others.”

Link to the Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines Publication - Opens in a new tab

Cathy Breden

CEO of the Center for
Exhibition Industry Research
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Cathy Breden

CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research

“A variety of factors go into negotiating a convention center contract. From the exhibition organizer’s perspective, they are bringing a piece of business to a city and they want the best overall package possible. The organizer will take into consideration the available dates, available space and rates, along with other concessions that are important to them, as well as hotel rates, etc. They will also consider whether the destination and convention center is attractive to their exhibitors and attendees. It is in their best interest to have the largest attendance possible. There is no simple pricing structure that would meet the needs of the organizer. As part of the negotiation process, both the organizer and the convention center need to have the ability to negotiate. A simple scenario, for instance, the destination might not be the first choice for the organizer; however, if the two parties are able to negotiate an attractive package, the likelihood of the city getting that piece of business is higher.”

Link to the Event Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions Page

David Audrain

Executive Director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers
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David Audrain

Executive Director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers

“The situation’s always been that convention centers are basically a tool to bring heads in beds — to fill hotel rooms. And so their primary target and their primary business is to find as large as possible groups to fill the venue with the most amount of out-of-towners to fill the hotel rooms. The amounts the venues charge is as long or as short as a piece of string. In some cases, venues do give away venue space. The whole package can be the venue is free because the hotel room rates are solid, and the group coming in wants a free venue but they don’t mind paying a little bit extra for the hotel rooms.”



A Glimpse Into Three Major Events | January—March 2022

From January through March 2022, the OCCC welcomed three major conventions and trade shows, in additional to several other conventions trade shows and sporting events. The largest during that timeframe include the PGA Merchandise Show, Design and Construction Week – featuring the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Conference and Exhibition. These events employed an estimated 3,184 residents with a combined salary range of $9-$39 per hour. This direct show floor workforce does not include the multitude of employees who work behind the scenes in the transportation, parking, sales, leasing and finance sections of the OCCC, as well as key staff who assist in coordinating these events. Ancillary staff at local hotels, restaurants, retailers, attractions, theme parks and the convention bureau also provided additional support and services to convention attendees and exhibitors beyond the show floor, further emphasizing the value of job creation and economic impact these events have on the community.




Community Impact | Convention Industry’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility

The OCCC strives to give back to the community through charitable contributions and partnerships with several of the region’s non-profit organizations. In our 2020-2021 fiscal year, nearly $220,000 in food and merchandise, including approximately 13,725 pounds of food, were donated to local organizations, including Great Oaks Village, Second Food Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Libby’s Legacy, United Against Poverty, One Heart for Women and Children, and Orange County Public Schools. Since 2013, approximately $14.42 million has been donated to local charities.


Affordable Housing Donations
from 2022 Design and Construction Week

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OCCC Supports
Great Oaks Village
Foster Home

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Center to
Community Gardens:
Feeding the Region

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Serving Essential Public
Safety Roles During
Local Emergencies

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OCFR Bike Team at OCCC

WFTV | OCFR Bike Team at OCCC


OTV | Centerplate and OCCC 50,000 Hydroponic Plants Donated

News 13 | OCCC Public Safety

News 13 | OCCC Public Safety



Economic Impact of the Heart of I-Drive


As North America’s premier location for safe in-person events, tradeshows and conventions, the OCCC has successfully welcomed more than 250 conventions, trade shows, meetings, consumer and sporting events since July 2020. While convention centers and facilities were just beginning to return to business, the OCCC has been doing Business Better Than Usual, through their expert knowledge of hosting safe events. This is a new era for tradeshows and conventions and the OCCC continues to lead the way.

In recent years, the Center has provided approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually, and averaged nearly 200 events, including 115 conventions and tradeshows that attract more than 1.5 million attendees to the region each year. The Center’s recovery efforts have enabled residents to stay employed and have helped the OCCC solidify future bookings that further create economic opportunities from visitors, attendees and exhibitors who support local businesses.

Every dollar a convention attendee or exhibitor spends during their visit, creates and supports jobs in the local community, puts funds for vital services in government coffers, and puts money in the hands of tens of thousands of citizens. According to a study by PFM Group Consulting, the average attendee at the OCCC has a $2,229 impact on the local community – that number is how overall economic impact is estimated from events using the OCCC’s rentable 2.1 million square feet of exhibit space.

The 7 million square feet figure, used by some media outlets, paints an inaccurate picture. It creates the impression that the OCCC is 7 million square feet of useable space, when in reality much of it is OCCC space that cannot rented - unusable spaces like back of house areas, kitchens, walkways, lobbies, hallways, parking, landscaped areas, etc.

The overall goal of economic impact aligns with the mission of maintaining and growing jobs — convention industry jobs that range from event managers, riggers, audiovisual engineers, production assistants, stage managers, truck drivers, caterers, accountants, security workers, logistics managers, show designers, trade journalists, talent agents, insurers, musicians, social media managers, photographers, videographers, carpenters and other live event personnel and freelancers. Not to mention the many local retailers, mom and pop souvenir shops, restaurants, entertainment, theme parks and transportation options used by convention visitors during their visit on International Drive and across Orange County.



Heart of I-Drive | Redi Pedi


Heart of I-Drive | Original Orlando Tours

Fox 35 | Mark Tester Orlando Matters

Fox 35 | Mark Tester Orlando Matters



Get In Touch

Orange County Convention Center

P.O. Box 691509

Orlando, FL 32869-1509

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(407) 685-9800

(800) 345-9845