Lori Drew and Meg Rhoades stand in front of the yearly calendar of events inside of the White Pine Convention Center. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Lori Drew and Meg Rhoades stand in front of the yearly calendar of events inside of the White Pine Convention Center. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Hanging inside the White Pine Convention Center, on the back wall of the building’s office is a calendar. Unlike most calendars, this one shows every day of every month, simultaneously. It’s the job of the four employees of the convention center to keep as many of the days on the calendar booked.

In 2014 so far, they’ve filled in 155 days.

“There is a lot more that goes on in this town than I think a lot of people realize,” Event Planning Specialist Meg Rhoades said.

It’s a difficult task preparing for each of the different 95 special events that will take place in the convention center by the end of the year.

Some need to accommodate large amounts of people, such as the Nevada State Bar Family Law Conference, which hosted more than 300 people for three days. Others require specific needs for long periods of time, like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s football team, which used the convention space to feed its group of more than 100 players and staff for two weeks.

“It doesn’t seem like we would be that busy, but if you include the number of meetings we also hold here, we would probably be somewhere in the hundreds on a yearly basis,” Rhoades said.

But for Rhoades, and business manager Lori Drew, working at the convention center means more than just setting up and breaking down chairs and tables. Another aspect of their job is to go to conventions and try and convince groups to host their event or meeting in Ely. Drew said that due to Ely’s distance from major metropolitan areas, her pitch to tourist groups focuses solely on the unique attractions of the city that can’t be found anywhere else.

“You don’t come to Ely by accident. We are so far away from everyone else, you have to have a reason to come here,” Drew said.

For many, that reason is the Nevada Northern Railroad Historic Foundation. For others it is the proximity to Great Basin National Park. In her experience, all that matters most is to get people into town. After that, Ely’s small town charm and natural beauty usually does the rest.

“It’s one thing to tell someone all about how great Ely is to visit, but it usually isn’t until they actually step off the bus here that they realize what we mean,” she continued.

Thanks to a refresh to the building’s exterior, which will bring the building’s entrance into compliance with the American Disability Act as well as improve on its overall look, those visitors will have one more thing to enjoy about their time at the convention center.

Rhoades said the renovation is the first of its kind at the convention center, and in her opinion, “long overdue.” Planned to be finish by the end of the month, this project will help add to new events in 2016, when the convention center will hold its largest convention in its history.

“We will be hosting somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people for the National Speleological Society. People in this town are definitely going to notice when that convention starts,” Rhoades said.

For more information about the White Pine Convention Center, or their upcoming schedule of events and conventions, call 775-289-3720.

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