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An integral part of Chesapeake’s growing economy
by John Downs, Sr.

The Chesapeake Conference Center with its impressive facade and state-of-the-art interior opened in 1997
The Chesapeake Conference Center with its impressive facade and state-of-the-art interior opened in 1997

Why do people come to the Chesapeake Conference Center? Certainly they come for business gatherings, conventions, trade shows, wedding receptions, company and office parties, charity events, church socials, and hundreds of other reasons. The more important question, however, is why do they keep coming back?

Stella Salyer, Director of Sales and Event Services for the conference center, has an easy answer. "It’s our professional and dedicated staff," she says with a great deal of conviction. "We make it easy for companies and private individuals to do business here. Our experience in event planning makes it a joy to have an event at the Chesapeake Conference Center."

Any function at the Chesapeake Conference Center undoubtedly has success written all over it. The facility itself offers an impressive facade with a few acres of free, well-lit, front-door parking. Its open air design provides easy access for the bulkiest of equipment and merchandise.

The interior, while spacious with a definite feel of luxury, is also flexible in design and offers clients high speed internet and free Wi-Fi. The fully carpeted floors, ornate walls, and premium lighting promise a touch of class for any event. The main ballroom can accommodate functions requiring up to 20,000 square feet of space. Because of unique moveable walls, smaller events are also easily planned with the same attention to detail. In total, the center offers 39,000 square feet of versatile function space. 200 exhibits can easily be accommodated.

The conference center is a short two minutes from Interstate I-64 and only 15 minutes from Norfolk International Airport. Guests are within walking distance of more than 650 moderately priced hotel and motel rooms. Through a cooperative partnership with Elite Presentations, Inc., any possible need organizations might have for state-of the-art audio/visual aid can be easily met. Large screens, up-lighting, draping, and the latest in sound and microphone equipment will be professionally installed and ready to make any event impressive with stunning visuals and crystal clear audio. With ease of access and numerous amenities, the Chesapeake Conference Center seamlessly fits the bill, regardless of the space and support services needed.

Jim O’Sullivan, Chesapeake’s popular elected Sheriff, annually sponsors a number of charitable events at the conference center.

"The Senior Support Services Seminar is the largest two day event at the conference center," Sheriff O’Sullivan says proudly. "Because of the strong support and expertise of the conference center’s staff, the event is one of the most popular and well attended charitable functions in Chesapeake. Each year, it goes off without a hitch thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and staff members of the Sheriff’s Office. But the dedicated individuals who work at the conference center are invaluable with their guidance and participation. To be quite honest, if we didn’t have the Chesapeake Conference Center, I’d have to move the event outside the city."

Many of the functions at the conference center require a catered meal. The conference center employs award-winning Antwan Bryant as its Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director.

"We make it easy
for companies and private
individuals to do business here. Our
experience in event planning makes
it a joy to have an event at the
Chesapeake Conference Center."

—Stella Salyer, CMP
Director of Sales and Event Sevices

"Chef Bryant has the experience, knowledge, and imagination to make any meal a masterpiece," Stella assures. "Anything from a totally vegan menu to sumptuous chicken cordon bleu and everything in between is possible for him. Whether the meal is a formal sit-down dinner with an experienced and friendly wait-staff, or a diverse ‘serve yourself’ buffet, guests will appreciate the cloth table linens, elegant silverware, and beautiful glassware we provide. We get so many gracious compliments about our food and desserts. Chef Bryant and his staff make an event at the conference center something really special."

Baxter Ennis is a community leader and President of the Hampton Roads Leadership Prayer Breakfast, which is held annually at the conference center. He is one of the conference center’s many satisfied clients.

"The Chesapeake Conference Center has done a magnificent job for our event over the past several years," Baxter says. "Last year we brought in nationally known former congressman Lt. Col. Allen West as the keynote speaker. The breakfast drew nearly 600 people, including nearly all of Hampton Roads’ mayors, delegates, military, civic, and religious leaders. The Conference Center staff could not have been more responsive to our needs. The set-up, the food and beverage, and the audio-visual support was excellent! The Conference Center is a perfect venue for a South Hampton Roads event, and is in a strategic, central location. I have used venues all over Hampton Roads for events and I will say without reservation—the Chesapeake Conference Center is superb!"

The much-anticipated and much-needed Chesapeake Conference Center opened its doors in 1997. Since its opening, the Greenbrier area that serves as its locale has grown and prospered dramatically.

Brandi McMahan is the Media and Communications Coordinator for the conference center. "I think the phenomenal growth in the Greenbrier area is one of the many positive benefits the conference center has spawned," she explains. "The number of motels and hotels and the fabulous selection of dining facilities in the area all complement the conference center nicely. Practically every industry in Chesapeake has benefited from the conference center’s presence. Cab drivers, 7-11’s, even Greenbrier Mall, all benefit when the conference center draws thousands of visitors annually to our city. These visitors shop, dine, go to movies, and provide revenue for businesses throughout our city. It’s a win-win situation for everyone."

Stella Salyer sees continued prosperity and a successful future for the Chesapeake Conference Center. "We’re booking well into 2017," she says. "Our larger clients – like the Taste of Chesapeake, the Hospital Foundation’s annual gala, the Sheriff’s charities – will all be back again this year, as will a number of other important events. We’ve recently added a Ticketmaster capability for our clients in hopes of attracting more entertainment-oriented events. I feel confident that the future looks bright for the Chesapeake Conference Center. As we like to say...Anything can happen here!"

Chesapeake Conference Center

700 Conference Center Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23320


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