NILES, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley’s newest events center is a flexible and state-of-the-art building that can accommodate everything from banquets to business meetings and competitions to conventions.
The Eastwood Event Centre, which had its soft opening in late September, opened its doors Oct. 29 to give media members, elected officials and business people a look. The 15,800-square-foot center is attached to Eastwood Mall and the Residence Inn. It features six meeting rooms of varying sizes that can accommodate gatherings of 10 to 1,400 people.
The center includes the latest audio, visual and data technology for business meetings, and soundproofed movable walls to create flexible spaces. It also has a fully staffed kitchen for on-site catering.
The center was built by the Cafaro Co., which owns the Eastwood Complex.
Columbus Hospitality Management, which operates 18 similar properties across the country, will manage the center.
The Columbus-based company installed Michael Patrone as general manager of Eastwood Event Centre.
Patrone says the new building fills a need.
“There is a demand for this type of events center [in the Mahoning Valley],” Patrone said. “We have great marketability to be the events center between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the halfway point between two major markets.”
Patrone stressed that Eastwood will be much more than a wedding destination.
“We can meet local and regional needs for business training and development [sessions],” he said, “and also for competitions such as dance and cheerleading.”
The building also has the capability of hosting trade shows.
“What sets us apart is the amount of money we spent on technology,” Patrone said. “It’s second to none, and very user-friendly. There are drop-down screens, built-in tech as far as Wi-Fi and for presentations. Very expensive LED projectors that are plug-and-play if you have a laptop or want to use [data transfer services]. There are a lot of things we can do with music and we can do large-scale Zoom teleconference meetings, with 1,000 in a room and another 2,000 taking part remotely.”
Another selling point of Eastwood Event Centre is its location: it’s attached to a mall and a hotel and is in the middle of a massive retail and entertainment complex.
“At the competitions that bring in people from all over the state and beyond, there is always down time,” Patrone said. “Having the food, beverage, entertainment and retail space around us, that sets us apart. We have everything from a trampoline park to shopping and restaurants, a movie theater and a baseball stadium.”
Patrone pointed out that there are roughly 300 hotel rooms on the Eastwood complex: about 100 at the attached Residence Inn and 200 more at the nearby Hampton and Fairfield Inn.
The kitchen is currently staffed by a team from Columbus. But Patrone said a local chef will be hired to provide a Mahoning Valley flavor.
“We have educated our kitchen team on some local favorites,” he said. “They’ve toured the area and some of its great cullinary destinations to learn what people in this area want.”
Charles Lagarce, the president and founder of Columbus Hospitality, was at Eastwood Event Centre for the preview. He gave credit to Cafaro Co. for developing it.
“The Cafaros wanted to build a first-class facility,” Lagarce said.
The Eastwood center is Columbus Hospitality’s first foray into the Mahoning Valley. Lagarce is confident area residents will be pleased.
“People are people,” he said. “[We will] give them great hospitality and a great experience.”
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said the Eastwood Expo Center will boost the county’s economy by bringing people to the area.
“Every year we go to Columbus for conventions,” Fuda said. “Conventions here would be much better. Anytime you can bring people here is a phenomenal thing.”
Fuda said the county will promote the center through its tourism bureau.
Beth Carmichael, director of the Trumbull County Tourism, said she will explore every type of gathering that could be lured to the new building.
“We will explore some other purposes for it,” she said, “such as taking advantage of its powerful Wi-Fi and connectivity for e-sports tournaments, and also hybrid meetings that are half live and half Zoom [teleconference].”
Pictured: Soundproofed movable walls in the center’s six rooms create flexible spaces.