COLUMBUS – Experience Columbus announced today the winners of the EXPY Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions by businesses, groups, organizations or individuals to the local hospitality industry and the Greater Columbus visitor experience in 2016.

The EXPY Award winners demonstrate the best of ColumbUS and serve as role models for creativity and collaboration in the community. They bring awareness to the importance of the local visitor economy, which generates $6.4 billion in direct visitor spend each year.

“It was not an easy task for the selection committee to choose the six winners,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “Each year, I am blown away by our winners’ dedication to go above and beyond in making Columbus a premier destination for visitors. These organizations are not only making a significant impact locally, but are being recognized nationally and internationally for their work.”

The EXPY Award winners will be celebrated at the Experience Columbus 2017 Annual Meeting on March 14. The recipients are:

The Columbus Foundation – 2016 National CEOs for Cities Meeting

The three-day 2016 CEOs for Cities National Meeting in Columbus illustrated the power of local support that is the essence of Experience Columbus’ “Make It Columbus” initiative, designed to encourage locals with connections to national associations to bring their groups to the city. The high-profile gathering of this national city-learning network, attended by nearly 500 leaders from 86 cities in 29 states, not only generated visitor spending in hotels, attractions, and restaurants, but also won legions of influential fans for the city.

Columbus Metropolitan Library and The Ohio State University Libraries – The 82nd IFLA World Library and Information Congress

More than 3,100 library and information professionals from 137 countries converged on Columbus from Aug. 13 to 19 for the 82nd annual International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress. The highly competitive bid was led by Columbus Metropolitan Library and The Ohio State University Libraries, with support from global and community partners. Columbus is only the fifth U.S. city to host the Congress, which produced nearly 20,000 room nights and visitor spending estimated at $8.2 million. The prestigious event provided unprecedented international exposure for the region and a major boost for Columbus’ reputation as a site for future global conferences.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport

In 2016, the John Glenn Columbus International Airport completed a dramatic transformation, including a brighter lobby, larger video displays, new interior finishes, contemporary seating and more restaurants and retail to deliver an enhanced airport experience. A new Columbus-branded mosaic, ColumbUS Welcome Center and Columbus 2020’s “One of Us” advertising campaign convey a cohesive, vibrant impression of the city. The jewel in the crown was the renaming to John Glenn Columbus International Airport in honor of the late American hero, John Glenn.

Columbus Downtown Development Corporation – Downtown Columbus Riverfront / Scioto Greenways

Guided by a 2010 community-wide public planning process and led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, Scioto Greenways brought an unsightly and underused area to life with 33 acres of new greenspace, 1.5 miles of multi-use pathways and a navigable, clean waterway. The area has quickly become one of the most used and beloved green spaces in the city, visited by more than 1.5 million people annually to hike, bike or walk; kayak or paddle board; or attend festivals and events. The project is an example of what public-private partnerships can accomplish and has created a renewed sense of civic pride and excitement about the possibilities of the riverfront and the city.

Ohio Quarter Horse Association – 50th Annual All American Quarter Horse Congress

Celebrating its 50th year, the All American Quarter Horse Congress, the world’s largest single-breed horse show and Columbus’ largest annual convention, has grown from a three-day event drawing 5,000 attendees to an event that runs 25 days and draws more than 650,000 people. Annual economic impact has been reported at more than $275 million. Additionally, the Congress has made lasting contributions to the city’s event infrastructure. Ohio Quarter Horse Association worked with the Ohio Expo Center to obtain funding for building two new facilities – the Buckeye Agriculture Complex in 2015 and Cardinal Hall in 2016.

The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts

For more than 40 years, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) has shaped and enhanced Columbus’ arts, culture and quality of life. It is internationally recognized for its diverse programming; dramatic restorations of the historic Ohio, Southern, Lincoln and Drexel theaters; and excellence in facility management. Through a unique shared-service business model, it has helped ensure the survival of a number of struggling arts organizations, including the Columbus Symphony, Opera Columbus, CATCO-Phoenix; the Drexel Theatre; and Ohio’s largest Hispanic celebration, Festival Latino, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. CAPA’s Picnic with the Pops flourished in a record-breaking fifth season featuring a stellar line-up of guest artists including the sold-out “An Evening of Symphonic Hip-Hop, featuring Nelly,” which brought national acclaim to Columbus. 

For more information and to purchase tickets to the Experience Columbus 2017 Annual Meeting, visit http://www.experiencecolumbus.com/annual.

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Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending that is generated by conventions, meetings, trade shows and leisure visitors.  Annually, visitors make more than 39.3 million trips to Greater Columbus, spending $6.4 billion generating $9.7 billion in economic impact and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. For more information, visit experiencecolumbus.com.