CPAC attracts regional, national events

Published 9:35 am Friday, March 17, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON — While the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center is the location for many annual local events, Clanton’s central location also makes it attractive to regional events and national competitions.

CPAC director Christine Brown said the conference center is used for about 200 events per year.

“The majority of the events that I have do at least come from out of county and a lot from out of state,” Brown said.

Each year there is an increase in the number of events wanting to book the venue. Brown said some of the annual events have grown to multiple day events.

Many event coordinators have contacted brown through the Jeff State website.

“A lot of it, of course is word of mouth, we have a lot of events that I gain new events from those events,” Brown said.

A wide range of events have come to the venue, including business conferences, local graduations, dance competitions, dance recitals, proms and wedding receptions.

The annual Alabama Cooperative Extension System Beekeepers workshop is usually attended by 500 to 700. The largest event has been 2,000 people.

When the beekeeping event was first in the planning stages, Brown was not looking forward to it.

“But now it has turned in to one of the most fun events I do,” Brown said.

One company comes all the way from Florida to host their event at CPAC.

The popularity goes back to a classic business principle — location, location, location.

“Probably the number one cause is we are absolutely dead center in the middle of the state,” Brown said.

Its proximity to Interstate 65 also makes it a convenient location to hold an event.

Brown said the convenient parking at CPAC has also been a draw for events.

“It is fabulous for them because they are not having to park a couple mile away and walk to the event,” Brown said. “They are right here at the facility, so that has been a major plus.”

Events book up to two years in advance. Brown said she does not book events any further out to make sure local events have a chance to book it.

“I have 2018 pretty well booked. You are kind of scarce to get a date in 2018 already,”

Brown said a prom “truly brings in a lot of people who would never really have a reason to realize we are here,” such as students’ parents.

CPAC was started as a partnership between Jefferson State Community College. The city wanted a conference center, and the college wanted to establish a campus in Clanton.

Brown said the city did not want to be in charge of day-to-day operations, “so they let Jefferson State run it.”

The conference center is beginning to collect data the positive financial impact the facility has in the community. Because of the limited number of hotels in Chilton County, many attendees for larger events have to stay in hotels in the surrounding counties. Brown said having data on just how many attendees to do this would be beneficial to demonstrate “the need that we are having.”