This past weekend, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB) welcomed the first live, in-person event to the Rhode Island Convention Center (RICC) since March 2020. JLC LIVE, by Informa Markets, returned to Providence for its 25th year, lining exhibition floors and filling ballrooms last Thursday through Saturday.

“We’re excited to welcome live events back to the RI Convention Center and to the city of Providence and there was no better way to kick things off than with a long-standing partner,” said Kristen Adamo, president and CEO of the PWCVB. “There’s a distinct liveliness to downtown when attendees leave the convention halls and head out into the streets to visit local restaurants and shops that we’ve all been missing for more than a year.”

“We are in the business of connection,” said Nancy Walsh, President, North America at Informa Markets. “We have made incredible progress in providing our customers broader reach, better-qualified leads, and year-round opportunities for education, innovation, and growth through digital and data solutions, but meaningful networking is not replicable in a virtual format. There is an energy to the in-person experience that we have been missing over the last year.”

This event is expected to have generated more than $1.2 million in direct spending and utilized nearly 1,300 hotel room nights across 10 hotel properties in the city. Over the course of the conference, attendees included around 4,000 builders, remodelers, and crews from across New England looking to perfect their skills and build their businesses by networking with exhibiting companies, getting up-to-date practical information in conference sessions, and attending live building clinics.

The return of live events also means a return to business for the RICC. While it hasn’t hosted any meetings or conventions over the last 17 months, it sure hasn’t been dormant. A 600-bed alternative hospital site was constructed inside the RICC in April 2020 and was active from December 1, 2020, through February 24, 2021. The Center also became a state-run COVID-19 test site in July 2020.

“After more than a year of our facilities being utilized to support the state’s COVID-19 initiatives, we’re happy to get back to hosting events that bring people together in a safe and enjoyable manner,” said Lawrence Lepore, general manager of the RICC and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. “Our staff were excited to welcome JLC LIVE’s attendees this weekend and the overall return of Providence’s live-events industry.”

Prior to reopening, the RICC implemented its VenueShield Reactivation Plan to ensure the health and safety of staff, guests, and attendees. The RICC is scheduled to host multiple events throughout the end of 2021, including meetings, conferences, conventions, and sports, that are expected to generate millions of dollars in direct spending.