2014 NSC Set for San Diego

The National Safety Council's big annual conference will return to the Southern California city, which is planning to expand its convention center.

CHICAGO – Most of the recent national headlines about San Diego focused on ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who agreed to resign in August after more than a dozen women filed sexual harassment claims against him. There is better news, however, at least on the tourism and convention front: The 2014 National Safety Congress & Expo will take place in the city Sept. 13-19 (the expo days are Sept. 15-17), and the interim mayor who has replaced Filner, Todd Gloria, recently joined other local leaders to support an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, which is located on the harbor in the city's attractive downtown.

The NSC conference most recently took place in San Diego in 2010. Conference sites since then have been Philadelphia, Orlando, and Chicago. Atlanta is the 2015 site; a member of the safety council's Exhibitor Advisory Board said Houston is another city under consideration for future conferences.

If the plan is approved, a five-acre rooftop public park will be added to the convention center, along with a 500-room hotel tower, 225,000 square feet of additional exhibit space and 101,000 square feet of additional meeting space, and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom. The expansion will make it the largest contiguous exhibit space on the West Coast, convention center officials have said.

The California Coastal Commission is expected to consider the project during an Oct. 9-11 meeting. "The Convention Center Expansion is an extraordinary project that balances the needs of our customers with a visionary design that improves our bayfront," said Vice Chair Bob Nelson of the Board of Port Commissioners. "This is an opportunity to smooth out the rough edges of the South Embarcadero and create a new destination park that will be the pride of San Diego."

"Our clients have told us loud and clear that they need an expansion that is contiguous so they can host their meeting under one roof," Phil Blair, chairman of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., said last month. "The expansion of our convention center will create nearly 7,000 new permanent jobs and an estimated 3,000 construction jobs, which our economy needs today. The time is now to get this project started with a shovel in the ground."

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