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One Young World summit 'a big deal' for busy city of Pittsburgh

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 12:05 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband
Bayer sponsored signage in the baggage claim area at Pittsburgh International Airport welcomes global young leaders arriving to Pittsburgh for the One Young World summit this week. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

This week's One Young World summit in Pittsburgh is not among the year's biggest conferences, but the millions of dollars and worldwide publicity it likely will bring to Pittsburgh could top the charts, business owners and managers said.

“If you were to rate this on a scale of one to 10 in terms of size, it would be a five,” said Tom Hemer, sales and marketing director for Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, Downtown. “But on a scale of what it means to the city, it would be a nine or 10. It's going to help raise the city's profile.”

Pittsburgh beat cities worldwide to land the third annual conference with about 1,300 young leaders, mostly in their 20s, from 180 countries.

The four-day event will start on Thursday with a ceremony at Heinz Hall and a kickoff party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Most sessions will be at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, though events will occur throughout the city and surrounding areas.

Organizers expect more than 20 international news outlets to cover One Young World.

VisitPittsburgh, the region's tourism organization, estimates a potential $5 million economic impact directly connected to spending on hotels, food and transportation.

One Young World could generate nearly 5,000 hotel-night stays — including on typically slow Thursday and Sunday nights, said Tom Martini, general manager of the Westin Convention Center. The hotel anticipates averaging 400 rooms per night and drawing about $500,000 in business.

“It's a great piece of business for us,” Martini said. “I'm looking forward to hosting them. It's going to help make this the greatest October the hotel has had in its history.”

The Westin this month is set to break records for occupancy and room revenue, Martini said. He said revenue is up almost 20 percent over a record high, though he declined to provide specifics.

Occupancy rates at all Downtown hotels are at their highest levels in more than 15 years, Martini said. He attributed much of the recent success to the legacy of the G-20 economic summit in 2009.

One Young World won't generate that type of buzz but will help, Hemer said.

“When you piggyback the two together, it sends quite a message to the rest of the world about Pittsburgh,” he said.

The convention center sends people through the doors of August Henry's City Saloon, Downtown, every week, said owner Todd Mathias.

He said the G-20 was the worst week in his restaurant's eight-year existence because it was inside the security zone, isolated from much of his clientele. But he looks forward to this week's young crowd.

“I know it was a big deal that Pittsburgh was able to land it,” Mathias said. “It's great to be right across from the convention center. Kudos to the people who bring all the conferences here.”

Regency Transportation is hardly across the street from the convention center, but senior Vice President Linda Gasper said the North Side company is just as thankful for summit-related business. Nine buses, including some secured from Elite Coach Transportation in Murrysville, will shuttle delegates between the airport and hotels. The bill could top $60,000, she said.

“That's a good day,” Gasper said. “This is great for the city.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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