rhonda_spears_bell_and_germaine_smith-baugh_1.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – The National Urban League has selected Fort Lauderdale as the host city for its 2015 Civil Rights and Social Justice Conference. The announcement  came during a press conference held Friday at the Urban League of Broward County’s Community Empowerment Center, 560 N.W. 27th Ave., Fort Lauderdale.

The league held its midwinter conference in the city for just over a decade, according to Rhonda Spears Bell, its senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

“We are familiar with the city and thought it was time to bring the big game here,” she said.

The city will be prepared and will work hand-in-hand with Broward Urban League, Broward County government and the community to “make sure that this conference is special,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

Scheduled for the last week of July 2015, the conference is expected to bring about 5,000 registered attendees and pump between $8.5 million and $9 million into the local economy, Bell said.

 “It’s not just about the monies ULBC will leave behind but the growth (Fort Lauderdale) we’ll experience because we were chosen as the host city,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This gives us the opportunity to bring the most influential black professional organizations to town.”

The conference will have an extensive cultural impact on the community, said Broward County Mayor Kristen Jacobs.

“Things are a little slower in July, so it’s an excellent time to bring a conference of this size to the city,” she said.

The NUL picked the Marriott Harbor Beach as host hotel.

“We have contacted four other hotels, but the Marriott Harbor Beach will serve as our host,” said Bell.

Selecting the host city was a competitive process, Bell said. Fort Lauderdale was among 10 cities vying to host the conference.

There was “some healthy competition,” Bell said.

“There was not a financial component for the host city to bid but there is an affiliate guideline,” she said. “The city must be able to host the number of people our conference attracts. And destination is always an attraction as people consider cities that are easy to get to.”

The names of the other nine bidding cities were not disclosed.

Germaine Smith-Baugh, president/CEO of the local league, described the announcement as “momentous,” adding, “We believe that it’s important to have the Urban League of Broward County be seen as an integral part of the social and economic fabric of our community.”

The National Urban League is a 102-year-old civil rights, social justice urban advocacy organization servicing more than 2.8 million people nationwide through its 95 affiliates.

Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net