January 30, 2020

Fifteen years as Salem’s convention center

Fifteen years. Nearly 1.2 million event attendees. More than $51 million in total net revenue. Steady revenue growth, year by year, and an unbroken record of operating in the black. By any measure, the Salem Convention Center is an acknowledged urban success. It is also a landmark player in downtown Salem’s ongoing revitalization.


The Salem Convention Center hosts more than 580 events each year. “Since 2005 Downtown Salem has benefitted from the Salem Convention Center’s commitment to professionalism and exceptional service to its clients and guests. More than 103,000 Convention Center attendees visit and explore Salem and its many diverse and excellent shops, restaurants and historic and recreational attractions.  Wishing the Convention Center another successful 15 years.”, says Sheri Wahrgren, Downtown Revitalization Manager, City of Salem.


“When the Convention Center opened, it brought a new awareness to many people who’d never experienced the vibrancy of Salem’s downtown.  I still remember meeting planners saying ‘I never knew Salem’s downtown has so much to offer!’ Well now they do, it’s one of the many reasons Salem is the “Most Oregon Part of Oregon. Congratulations to the Salem Convention Center on 15 years of brining so many great conventions and events to Salem!”, says Debbie McCune, Director of Sales/Vice President of Travel Salem.

“Our outstanding team, superior customer service, and excellent food and beverage are a huge part of our ongoing success,” says Chrissie Bertsch, SCC general manager. “We are thankful to our loyal customers that come back to us year after year.” SCC is managed by The Salem Hotel Group, LLC, a local hospitality company headquartered in Salem, Ore.

Attendees travel from around the state, region, nation and across the globe to attend multi-day conventions and conferences and one-day or half-day workshops or meetings. The Center also hosts a regular stream of clients celebrating weddings, family or school reunions, special occasions, and fundraisers. Its location just off I-5 midway between Portland and Eugene is convenient for groups arriving from outside Salem and around the state. The adjoining 193-room The Grand Hotel in Salem and Bentley’s restaurant make up the rest of the city block which provides our customers with an all inclusive experience.


Open and contemporary design, planned to be green

The open, contemporary building, designed by LMN Architects of Seattle with extensive glass, concrete, steel, and wood, is expansive yet inviting, thanks to the thoughtful placement of carpets, upholstered furniture, and light fixtures that cast a warm glow. Its 29,000 total square feet can accommodate up to 1,800 people at one time. Large rooms of up to 11,400 square feet are easily divided to host smaller groups.

Designed from the ground up to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient, the Center is LEED Silver EB and EarthWISE certified. It features radiant heat floors, a single outdoor air ventilation and heat recovery unit that preconditions all incoming air, and awnings on the building’s floor-to-ceiling west-facing windows that open automatically as heat from the afternoon sun increases. These and other measures significantly reduce the building’s heating and cooling costs. Solar power helps reduce energy costs.

Showcasing local artists

The Center’s extensive art collection showcases local and regional artists. Sculpture is featured in the outdoor courtyard and sculpture garden.  Inside, the Center currently highlights pieces from the Hallie Ford Museum at Willamette University, the City of Salem, and the Center’s own permanent collection. The public is welcome to view the art collection during the Center’s regular business hours.

Funded with a combination of private and public money at a cost of $32 million, the Center is managed by The Salem Group, LLC.


The numbers:                                                                       

  • Opened: March, 2005
  • Construction cost: $32 million
  • Total net revenue as of June 2019: More than $51 million
  • Local hotel room nights sold for SCC event attendees, March 2005 to June 2019: More than 120,000
  • Total attendees, March 2005 to June 2019: 1.2 million
  • Total events, March 2005 to June 2019: More than 7,400


Awards and Certifications:

  • Northwest Construction’s Best Architectural Design, 2004
  • One of the 100 Best Green Companies in Oregon, Oregon Business magazine
  • One of the Top Three Best Convention/Conference Venues in Oregon, voted by meeting planners through Northwest Meetings and Events magazine
  • Travel Salem MOPO (Most Oregon Part of Oregon) Award
  • Travel Salem Ab Fab Award
  • Travel Salem Green Award
  • MPI (Meeting Professionals International) Oregon Chapter Silver Platter Award
  • LEED Silver EB certified
  • EarthWISE certified
  • Member, United States Green Building Council

Commitment to green practices:

  • The Santiam Gallery’s terrazzo floor is made of materials recycled from the building that previously stood on the SCC site.
  • The Willamette Foyer floor is made from recycled plywood ends.
  • All SCC air handling units and water heaters are 95% efficient.
  • Low-reflecting membrane roof reduces SCC’s thermal footprint.
  • Low wattage fluorescent lighting and Green Seal-certified janitorial supplies are used throughout the facility.
  • ENERGY STAR-certified equipment is first choice for equipment purchases.
  • SCC purchases Portland General Electric wind power.

For more information, please contact: Chrissie Bertsch, The Salem Group, LLC



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