President’s Foreword – Six Years in the Making
Rya Hazelwood

President’s Foreword – Six Years in the Making

By J. Tate Godfrey, CEcD, President & CEO

From 2017 to 2023 … that’s how long it took from when the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) submitted their bid to host an IAMC Spring Forum in Biloxi to when it was finally held last month.

It wasn’t always meant to be a 6-year timeframe. Biloxi was originally the planned host for the Spring 2020 Forum at the Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino. This 1,700-room facility was, and remains, the largest hotel in the state of Mississippi. Even then, the Beau had plans to renovate their rooms and common areas – which they ultimately completed in 2022 – and everything was proceeding according to plan … until the global pandemic hit. 

A global disaster in so many respects, the Coronavirus was devastating to the meetings and events industry. In 2020, when the State of Mississippi Governor’s Office issued an order to cancel/delay meetings and conferences, IAMC was faced with cancelling the Spring 2020 Forum.  I made the difficult call to Mr. Joey Roberts with MDA to tell him the bad news.  To Mississippi’s credit, the first comment from Joey was, “Can we get back in the queue for a future forum?”  We agreed on Spring of 2023.

In an unplanned coincidence, the Fall 2022 Forum had by that time been scheduled at a casino property in Detroit. And so, IAMC held two back-to-back Forums – originally scheduled years apart – at casino properties. Additionally, while we always endeavor to avoid conflicts on the calendar – like holidays, spring break and Master’s Week – changing the dates of an event is no easy feat, and we had very limited options for 2023 dates at the Beau Rivage.

That said, we greatly appreciate the flexibility and understanding from IAMC members and sponsors and your help in making the Spring 2023 Forum a success!

This great event was made even better by the incredible hospitality and support of MDA, IAMC’s only remaining founding sponsor who has been unwavering in their support since 2002.  And they should be very proud of their efforts in Biloxi, from the grand gestures to the small touches.

The second most heard comment about Biloxi was, “Everyone was so nice and friendly!” And that was no surprise.  So, on behalf of IAMC’s leaders, members, sponsors and staff, I offer a big thank you to the Mississippi Local Host Committee for pouring out Southern Hospitality like it was sweet tea.

After every Forum, staff takes a deep dive into our own observations, direct comments and feedback from members, and evaluation scores across both onsite evaluations and the post-forum survey. We take this feedback and these learnings seriously and always endeavor to improve. Which is why, I think, IAMC continues to grow and be a premier event for leaders in industrial real estate.

That said, after six years of waiting, I hope Mississippi has heard loud and clear that IAMC was proud to be in Biloxi, and they did a great job of hosting our Spring Forum.


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