Stacey Yates
Stacey Yates

Along with logistics and automotive manufacturing, hospitality is one of Louisville’s largest and fastest-growing business sectors, with hotels, caterers, events venues and event-planning companies employing thousands.

One organization is charged with feeding that beast, its executives roaming the United States, looking for that next big convention or corporate meeting. And those meetings pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy.

Monday, Stacey Yates, Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau vice president of Marketing Communications, and Cleo Battle, executive vice president, will discuss Louisville’s role as a rising star in the national convention and corporate meetings world.

Last year was a banner year for Louisville conventions. Yates and Battle will give us a preview of 2014 and explain just what it means when the CVB “sells” the city.

They’re joining us just as Louisville is on the cusp of a convention and travel boom.

aDSC_9949Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience just opened late last year.

Several downtown hotels are planned or under construction, including Steve Poe’s Aloft Hotel at First and Main streets and Bill Weyland’s Hilton Garden Inn at Fourth and Chestnut streets. Mary Moseley, president and CEO of Al J. Schneider Cos., is involved in two major projects.

Moseley, who owns the Galt House and other hotels, is transforming the former Stewart’s Dry Goods building at Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard into an Embassy Suites hotel. She’s also an investor with Ed Hart, Ed Glasscock and movie producer Bruce Lunsford in the effort to reopen Kentucky Kingdom, which was for a time Louisville’s No. 1 tourist attraction.

A downtown casino and an expansion of the Louisville International Convention Center are in the planning stages, so you don’t want to miss this one …

And now you know our secret agenda: Grab a cocktail, meet other Insiders and have fun.

Insiders Meetups are every Monday at Vincenzo’s, 150 S. Fifth St. in downtown Louisville, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. … though insiders rarely file out before 7. Vincenzo’s offers free valet parking (beginning at 5 p.m.) and drink and bar menu specials. And let’s not forget Chef Agostino’s yummy appetizers!

Insiders Meetups are open to the first 50 Insiders who register here at Eventbrite.

After 19 Insiders Meetups, we’ve learned two things: Insiders like a good free-form, no-pressure get-together, and Vincenzo’s knows how to put on a party. (Though we will miss departing master mixologist Joe Riggs, who’s leaving for Vail, Colo.)

Louisville economic development Czar Ted Smith at a recent Insiders Meetup.

A word to the wise: Recent Insiders Meetups with speakers have filled up quickly. More than 100 people turned out to hear recent guests including Louisville econ-dev Czar Ted Smith and green guru and NuLu founder Gill Holland.

Next up on our guest list is Lee Leet with QSR Automations on Feb. 10.

Previous Insiders Meetup guests include:

Larry Kass, Heaven Hill director of corporate communications, giving us the insiders story on the new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience urban bourbon distillery

Keith Starling, commercial leasing and marketing manager at America Place Business Park in Jeffersonville.

Ted Smith, chief of economic growth and innovation at Louisville Metro Government.

Gill Holland of The Green Building fame, and Nancy Church, executive director of the Kentucky U.S. Green Building Council

Pip Pullen, XstremeMedia/Mightily, and Jason Falls, CafePress, on social media

Residential real estate experts Jay Gulick, Kentucky Select Properties, and Tre Pryor, RE/MAX Champions

Metro Mayor Greg Fischer on his local-option sales tax proposal

Restaurant developer and attorney Chip Hamm, developer of Doc Crow’s restaurant, The Comfy Cow ice cream parlors and other concepts. Hamm also is an attorney with Miller Wells

Venture capitalist Bob Saunders, who helped found XLerateHealth accelerator for digital medical startups

Mark Palmer, co-founder of Oohology digital design and marketing firm

Bill Weyland, CITY Properties Group, who has developed The Henry Clay, Glassworks building and other major downtown projects

Nicki Sibley, Poe Companies. Poe Companies currently is developing RiverPark Place and other residential projects, as well as an Aloft Hotel on Main Street

Tyler Allen, co-founder of 8664

Terry McWilliams and Justin Brown, Real Estate Venture Exchange co-founders

Shine Contracting partners Matt Gilles, Gregg Rochman and Jonathan Bevan

Insider Louisville sports guru Mark Coomes

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