Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center struggles during COVID-19 pandemic

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Every month, the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center is filled with fairs and festivals, meetings and parties, or even some basketball. Now the once packed arena, or filled conference rooms are empty.

Andrea Akers is the General Manager of the convention center.

“The Women’s Expo was cancelled. It was the very first thing COVID affected,” Akers said.

Soon, the pandemic started a chain reaction of cancellations.

“Then after that we cancelled the home show, the chamber of commerce event the dinner they had scheduled, the arts and crafts festival. All of those things were cancelled. So basically, everything,” Akers said.

On March 16, 2020, staff closed the convention center doors. They had to lay off all employees, with the exception of the general manager and the facilities manager. Akers said the center is actually a non-profit organization.

“On a normal year we break even, pretty much, financially,” Akers explained.

Akers said this year they lost about 80-percent of their business.

“I don’t know when it will come back,” Akers said.

The center can still host events at smaller capacity, including training sessions and shopping events not expected to bring a high volume of people. Akers said they changed some protocols to accommodate them.

“We do have to maintain social distancing, masks, sanitation. All of those kinds of things are in place,” Akers explained.

If you or your business wants to donate to the center or book an event, call (304) -252-7361

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