WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce says the Benton Convention Center needs new technology or it will be one of many groups unable to continue using the facility for conventions and business meetings in the future.
Last week at the Chamber’s Annual Business and Technology Expo the WiFi system at the Benton could not handle the demand. Vendors were forced to turn off laptops and smartphones.
Gayle Anderson, Chamber President, says it’s a problem that’s been brought up before, but overlooked by the city which owns and funds the convention center.
“It sends the very wrong message about the city of arts and innovation that we are not even competent to bring the infrastructure people need to do business to our convention center, ” said Anderson.
Mayor Allen Joines agreed.
“I totally agree we recognize that the convention center needs some major upgrades,” said Joines.
Joines says that’s why the city and tourism officials are already spending $100,000 to study the center and understand it’s problems.
Joines says the solution won’t happen over night.
“We want to do it right when we do it we don’t want to do it piece mill and I think to put band aids on this thing is not the way to do it,” said Joines.
Meanwhile, Anderson says she will have to move her expo if the city doesn’t do something to address the problems soon.
The outcome of the survey is expected later this year. Then city leaders say they will have a better idea of how to fix and fund the technology and other problems at the convention center.
In the meantime, the convention center is getting a temporary system that should be able to handle the needs of upcoming conventions.
Last year Benton Convention Center management estimates more than 95,000 visitors pumped $69 million into surrounding businesses and the local economy.