FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CVA?

CVA is an acronym for convention and visitors authority. CVAs are destination management organizations. Most CVAs, South Shore CVA included, are not-for-profit organizations that work under a governing body to promote visitor and business travel through sales and marketing initiatives.

What does the SSCVA do?

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority’s mission is to lead the hospitality industry and aid our partners through the development and support of attractions throughout the region. The South Shore CVA draws meetings, sporting events and group tours from around the nation marketing the destination as a centrally located, reasonably priced destination.

Do my property and sales taxes pay for the SSCVA?

No. The SSCVA is funded by casino admission revenue and a hotel/motel tax. Not one penny of property taxes pay for the SSCVA.

How does tourism benefit Lake County?

Approximately 6.7% of all jobs in Lake County are supported by the tourism to the region. In addition to the hotel and restaurant industry, tourism directly supports jobs in arts, retail trade, and transportation. Revenue collected from tourism in Lake County is sufficient to support 11,608 Indiana public school students. If Lake County tourism did not exist, each of the 211,000+ households would have to pay an additional $532 per year in taxes to maintain current state and local tax levels. (2017 Rockport Analytics, LLC)

How many hospitality employees are employed in Lake County?

Nearly 50,000 people are employed by tourism, accommodations (hotels), food services and retail trade in Lake County.

What is the economic impact of tourism on Lake County?

Millions of visitors descend on Lake County each year, filling hotel rooms throughout the region, visiting attractions, dining in restaurants and purchasing merchandise. These visitors spend money on goods and services such as lodging, food and beverages, gasoline, souvenirs, admission fees, entertainment and other retail goods, all of these expenditures create an impact of $908.2 million in Lake County and approximately $1.6 billion impact on the entire region (including Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper Counties).

Why is the SSCVA important to visitors?

The SSCVA provides valuable information about the South Shore including area attractions, restaurants and accommodation options. Our CVA provides regional information about the area between Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan at no cost to the visitor. 

FAQs on Potential Lake County Convention Center

Why should Lake County be considered for a convention center?

Situated at the border of Indiana and Illinois, Lake County is within close driving distance to the Chicago Metro Area, where more than 9.5 million people live, as well as Chicago’s two international airports. The area is also within a four-hour driving distance of other major metro areas like Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Louisville.

How many overnight rooms are there available in Northwest Indiana?

There are approx. 4,300 sleeping rooms within Lake County, which is around 55% of Northwest Indiana’s inventory of 7,500 rooms.

Why is Lake County considering a convention center?

The closing of the Radisson Hotel at the Star Plaza has left a void in the NWI and Lake County marketplace in terms of convention/conference facility product. The seven facilities still in the county feature limitations that negatively impact their ability to host a diverse profile of group business, with no more than 25,000 square feet of sellable space. The inability to accommodate certain events limits significant economic impact. Significant local demand exists for an event space that could accommodate a number of civic gatherings and local consumer shows, as well as small meetings, banquets and receptions. These events have been forced to look for spaces outside of Lake County, or with sub-optimal support from venues still existing.

What types of groups will use a convention center?

National, state and local association conventions, sporting events and special local events (i.e. antique shows) can use the facility. The CVA will bid on association meetings that are too large for small meeting spaces, but too small for larger and more expensive markets like Chicago, Las Vegas and New York. The South Shore CVA will poise the location and the facility for tertiary groups like Indiana Association of Cities and Towns as well as regional groups that meet in places like Fort Wayne and Lafayette.

What is the Genesis Center currently used for?

The Genesis Center in Gary, Indiana is three decades old, is an arena and is currently used for city meetings and events.

How was the 2018 Convention Center Feasibility Study processed?

The study was produced through a series of benchmarks on national convention/event facilities, interviews with community, government and development representatives and experience of more than 1,000 conventions and event facility planning projects nationwide. Interviews were conducted in-person and via telephone. Representatives from each of Lake County’s 19 communities, as well as hoteliers, business leaders and other stakeholders were interviewed locally and more than 120 potential new users of a Lake County Convention Center were interviewed via telephone.

How were locations for a facility determined?

Multiple characteristics and factors are necessary to determine an appropriate location to host a convention center facility. These include:

  • Proximity to quality, full-service hotels, as well as select/focused hotels
  • Capable and supportive infrastructure
  • Size, cost & ownership complexity of the site
  • Proximity to restaurants, retail, nightlife and entertainment
  • Pedestrian-friendly walking environments
  • Parking availability
  • Visibility
  • Synergy with public sector initiatives and community master plans
  • Compatibility with surroundings
Where would a multi-use facility/convention center be located?

The feasibility study by CSL recognizes five sites in Lake County to be suitable for a convention center. Click HERE for the full study.

How can a local income tax be used?

Lake County currently has a 0.25% local income tax for economic development in place, as well as the 0.25% for public safety. The statutory cap on the tax or combination of taxes in the Expenditure rate classification is 2.5%. With 2.0% in remaining capacity, this would equate to potential revenues for Lake County, assuming current levels, of roughly $215 million per year.

How does an innkeepers tax work?

The innkeepers tax must be authorized by the Indiana General Assembly in county-specific legislation. For Lake County, Indiana code 6-9-2 authorizes a 5% tax “on the gross retail income” derived from rentals of 30 days or less and clarifies that this tax is in addition to the state retail tax on the transaction. Revenues are allocated by the county treasurer to various entities according to the provisions of the statute. Revenues were $2.9 million in 2017, slightly lower than in 2016.

How is the current innkeepers tax distributed?

For the first $1.2 million collected each year:

  • 35% to the South Shore CVA for deposit in the convention, visitors and promotion fund to promote meetings, sports and leisure travel
  • 44.3% to Indiana University-NW for medical education and allied health education programs
  • 9% to the cities and towns in Lake County for tourism and economic development projects
  • 9% to Purdue University-Calumet for nursing programs
  • 2.67% to two cities for facility marketing, sales and public relations for convention facilities located within the cities

For any revenues exceeding $1.2 million each year:

  • 85% to the SSCVA to promote and encourage conventions, trade shows, special events, recreation and visitors
  • 5% each to Purdue University-Calumet; Indiana University-NW for medical education; Indiana University-NW for allied health education
Why would we need a convention center when we live so close to Chicago?

Lake County’s hotel and facility rental costs could serve as a competitive advantage to Chicago-based prices. In general, there are limited sizable convention facility products in north Indiana, with the Century Center in South Bend representing the only facility in the northern third of the state that offers a single room greater than 20,000 square feet.

How do industry trends influence a facility?

The travel industry supports more than 15 million Americans in nine private-sector jobs. The travel industry creates $2.3 trillion in revenue nationwide and is a significant economic driver and job creator. 1.9 million meetings occurred in 2016, with 251 million meeting participants. 53% of that activity consisted of corporate meetings, while conventions and tradeshows made up 17.8% and 15.9% of activity respectively.

How large should such a facility be?

According to CSL’s recent study, demand suggests an opportunity for 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of sellable space with a 35,000 to 45,000 contiguous exhibition hall. The center would need to attach to a 225-275 room hotel property, with 400-450 committable hotel rooms.