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2012March 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 9 NEWSAfter years of industry lobbying for an international convention centre for the Welsh capital, an ICC project is set to be endorsed by Cardiff Council.The first financial commitment of £3m to bring a £50m International Conference and Convention Centre is set be realised by the Liberal Democrat/Plaid Cymru-run authority. The council has identified the St David's House office block opposite the central bus station as a preferred location for the venue.Marketing organisation Cardiff & Co's MD Richard Thomas tells CN: "Congratulations to Cardiff Council for making a firm commitment on this. It clearly recognises this is a positive investment in the long term."The owners of St David's House, a group of investors based in Ireland and London, were rumoured to be in talks with council officials about the future of the site.Hoteliers and meetings industry professionals in the city have long argued that Cardiff needs an ICC to compete with rival cities in the corporate and association sector. The Chair of the Cardiff Hoteliers' Association, Marie Fagan, said a convention centre would represent a "pinnacle" to Cardiff's growth in the corporate sector.First steps towards £50m ICC for CardiffAlexandra Palace's new CEO has confi rmed events and exhibitions business remains a vital part of the north London's venue programme as he embarks on an ambitious regeneration and refurbishment plan. Chief Executive Duncan Wilson, OBE, will oversee both the trading arm of Alexandra Palace, previously under the jurisdiction of MD Rebecca Kane, and the trust. Kane leaves Alexandra Palace after a three-year stint to take up a position at The O2 Arena. Wilson has spent the last 10 years as CEO of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Before that, he was CEO of the Somerset House Trust and responsible for refurbishing and transforming it. He identifi ed two key focal points in his new role: To sustain present events business including Ally Pally's Olympic programme in 2012, and regeneration. "A lot of the venue is currently empty; many people don't know for instance that we have a large Victorian theatre," he told CN. "This venue has huge potential and our task is to bring new spaces online and supplement what we have already." Wilson admitted his task was momentous and that many had failed in their quest to realise Alexandra Palace's full potential.Crisis talks at TMP as CEO Lorraine Rogers leavesThe Mersey Partnership's (TMP) Chief Executive, Lorraine Rogers has decided to leave the organisation following recent "inaccurate press speculation", according to its Chair Rod Holmes. Merseyside's tourism and investment body faces an uncertain future following budget cuts, according to a report in the Liverpool Daily Post.The report said TMP was plunged into crisis after weeks of drawn out, behind the scenes, negotiations to merge with the yet to launch Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) ended in failure. It said the fundamental reason for the collapse in the deal was a disagreement on how many of the 55 staff from TMP would transfer to the new organisation.Holmes told CN: "It's business as usual and TMP will not be engaging in speculation or public discussion about the confi dential discussions with the LEP."A recent independent report found TMP to be well run and fi nancially robust.Organiser of IMEX America, IMEX Group, ays the show will expand to fi ll two halls at Sands Expo this year.IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom says destinations that have already booked larger stands for 2012 include: Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Palm Springs, Argentina, Croatia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Ireland and Scandinavia. New exhibitors include Abu Dhabi, Hawaii and Long Beach. Bloom says: "We've been pleasantly surprised to see high demand for stand space. Of exhibitors who have contracted since the start of the year, just over a third have doubled their stand size."Bloom says the hosted buyer programme will also grow for 2012. Last year 2,000 hosted buyers attended the event in Las Vegas.New CEO at Alexandra PalaceIMEX America to fi ll two halls for 2012 show The council's own studies have shown a centre with capacity for 1,500 delegates would bring £46m a year into the Cardiff economy.

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