Sunday, August 05, 2001

What's the Buzz?

Westin, hall help each other, racial ties

        Steve Reece and Wayne Bodington are hoping a “fundamental good business decision” will cultivate dollars, jobs and partnerships instead of pickets after some black leaders called for a boycott of downtown businesses.

        Mr. Reece, the owner of Integrity Hall in Bond Hill, has signed a deal with the Westin Hotel whereby those using his conference center can get reduced room rates and overflow meeting space at the hotel.

        In turn, Mr. Bodington, the general manager of the downtown Westin, hopes to pick up more customers by offering room rates about 10 percent less than what the general public would pay.

        Mr. Reece figures the deal will allow Integrity Hall to book about 100 more events annually and increase his revenues by 40 percent to 50 percent.

        Integrity Hall does about 265 events a year, including weddings and family reunions, but it holds only about 300 people. That has forced Mr. Reece to turn away clients, including a family wanting to use Integrity Hall to bring 600 people traveling from places such as Los Angeles and Atlanta.

        Mr. Reece also estimates that the increased volume will generate up to 1,000 bookings a year for the Westin, a number Mr. Bodington figures would add more than $100,000 in revenue.

        The deal was sparked by Cincinnati Councilwoman Alicia Reece, Mr. Reece's daughter. She and Mr. Bodington met at Withrow High School. Both Ms. Reece and her father are alumni at Withrow, and Mr. Bodington sits on the school's travel and tourism advisory board.

        Mr. Reece and Mr. Bodington hope their deal will foster other ventures between black and white businesspeople in the city.

        “We hope this is a model that other businesses will emulate,” Mr. Bodington said. “It's a good fundamental business decision that's good for the city and the bottom line for each of us.”

— Jeff McKinney

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