AutoZone bringing national convention to Memphis; first big event at renovated Renasant Center

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — AutoZone will bring its national sales meeting to the Renasant Convention Center in downtown Memphis this September, the first large-scale meeting since the center’s $216 million renovation.

About 3,000 AutoZone associates from across the country will come to Memphis for the event Sept. 27-30, bringing an economic impact to the city estimated by Memphis Tourism at nearly $2 million.

It’s also one of the biggest events since the COVID-19 pandemic drained $97 billion from the U.S. trade show industry last year, Memphis Tourism said.

The event had been canceled in March due to social distancing restrictions.

The city’s downtown convention center, formerly known as the Cook Convention Center, reopened in November 2020 after a modernization project.

“We hope this is just the beginning of more meetings in Memphis, we want the world to know our city and meetings facility is open for business,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

Kevin Kane, president of Memphis Tourism, called the convention announcement welcome news for Memphis and Shelby County. But the effects of the pandemic are lingering. He said some of the city’s big hotels couldn’t sell all their rooms because they don’t yet have enough employees.

Downtown business owners welcomed the news of a new convention.

Jake Schorr, owner of Westy’s restaurant in the Pinch District said the pandemic had made business tough, but the convention would help Westy’s survive.

“The number of jobs it’s going to sustain and hotel nights throughout the Downtown area and Midtown and other parts of the city is remarkable,” Schorr said. “Everyone is excited, certainly at our little restaurant, to wait on the customers.”

Farhat Othmani, owner of Qawha coffee shop on Main Street, shared the excitement.

“Even if I get just 25 percent drinking coffee, I’m happy. I’m excited and the other thing is, conventions are back,” he said.

AutoZone, a Fortune 250 company, is based in Memphis.

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