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The 80's started out great for the Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau when it was honored by the Pittsburgh Society of Association Executives for outstanding service to the community.
The State Matching Fund grant to the Bureau totaled $225,000 in 1980, leading to a budget of $500,000. The PCVB also adopted another new logo that year—a triangle surrounded by a circle and rendering of the fountain at Point State Park.
In 1981 the David Lawrence Convention Center opened its 131,000 square foot exhibit hall and 24 meeting rooms. In honor of this grand opening, PCVB hosted ten days of clients visits from all across the United States. Later that year the PCVB initiated familiarization tours (FAM Tours) for association executives from Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC.
In 1982 the Commerce Department''s Bureau of Motion Picture + Television Development worked with the Bureau to attract Paramount Pictures to Pittsburgh. The two-week filming of Flash Dance began and no one thought of steel workers in the same way!
The poly-pod Visitor Center on Liberty Avenue was replaced in 1983 by a giant sculpture and plans were announced to move the Center to a new location in Gateway Center. Not only did the Visitor Center get a new home, but the Bureau got a new name; no longer the Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau, but now, the Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau. And to go along with that new name, a new advertising campaign was introduced: "Pittsburgh: the City with a Smile on its Face." The first ads were placed in consumer publications in 1985.
In 1984 John Besanceney was relieved of his duties as Executive Vice President and Bob Imperata became Acting Vice President, a position he held until the summer of 1985. This same year, Mr. Imperata was elected to the Board of Directors of the PA Travel Council.
The Bureau introduced a letter-writing campaign in 1985, based on the chain letter concept, which the Bureau''s 55-member board set in motion. This campaign was designed to promote the "Pittsburgh Ambassador" program with community leaders encouraging personal acquaintances to think of Pittsburgh as a viable meeting, convention and travel destination. Think about the impact this campaign would have today after the invention of email, Facebook and My Space!
Some major staffing changes occurred in 1985. Richard Gorman was named President and Chief Executive Officer and Bob Imperata was named Executive Vice President. Previously the position of president was held by a board member and the executive vice president headed the staff of about 20 employees. With this change in titles, the new head of the board became its chairman.
The city of Pittsburgh was named "America''s Most Livable City" by Rand McNally in 1985. The Bureau created a major billboard campaign in 12 cities to promote the new status. 22 years later, in 2007, Pittsburgh was again named "America''s Most Livable City."
Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh paid a visit to Pittsburgh in the summer of 1986 and officially opened the Visitor Information Center in Gateway Center, located in Downtown Pittsburgh. This 325 sq. ft glass and steel center was constructed from funds raised by local corporations and individuals. That same year, the state of Pennsylvania generated $2.1 billion in revenue from people traveling to the state from over 100 miles away.
After its first full year of operations in its new locating, the Visitor Information Center on Liberty Ave received an average of 3,000 visitors and 400 calls per month.
The "Good Times Guide to Terrific Pittsburgh Hotel Packages," the GPCVB's first weekend hotel package brochure, was published in 1987. It included 25 member hotels. Seven thousand people inquired about the brochure.
Visitors just couldn't get enough of Pittsburgh and on May 5, 1988 the Bureau opened a new Visitor Information Center in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Mount Washington Branch. In 1989, yet another Visitor Information Center opened on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland in the resorted log cabin next to the Stephen Foster Memorial.
The 1980s came to a close with one last major announcement for the GPCVB: Joseph R McGrath was to become the Bureau's new president, effective January 1, 1990.
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