CLEVELAND -- Downtown's revival, the Republican's picking Cleveland, the building's novelty are all factors that have Cleveland's new Convention Center fielding questions and bookings at a brisk pace.

In July, it passed it's first full year of operation with no cake or party. But there is much to celebrate.

"We had all the spokes before...now we have the hub," said Positively Cleveland's David Gilbert.

This month the center hosted big events focusing on Cleveland's three strengths: health care, manufacturing and aerospace.

Two thousand aerospace engineers visited this week. A host of them questioned by Channel 3 all had favorable impressions of the center, calling it a cut or two above the normal big box, both in design and proximity to the lakefront and downtown hotels and restaurants.

A total of 335 events are now booked through 2019, excluding the Republican conventions.

That will mean about 582,000 visitors, 442,000 hotel room nights and more than $530 million in projected economic benefits.

Mark Leahy who became General Manager of the facility late last year has managed centers in Boston and Pittsburgh.

"This one is pretty exciting... [Bookings] have not slowed down, it has skyrocketed...people are rediscovering Cleveland, " he said.

He says a partnership with Positively Cleveland, government and business groups is giving interested groups confidence their needs will be met.

Leahy says long term, the center will be like virtually many convention facilities and run in the red.

But it will be measured by how much business it provides Northeast Ohio's hospitality industry and brings people here to see and appreciate what Greater Cleveland has to offer as a place to visit, live and do business.

Follow WKYC's Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres on Twitter: @TomBeres

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