Florida's telecommunications providers are scrambling to meet demand.
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Smart City Holdings
Lake Buena Vista
Marty Rubin, Smart City Holdings CEO, saw promise in conventions when he negotiated acquisition of a telecom business serving meetings and events in the mid-'90s. "We felt cities were going to make convention centers a key part of revitalizing their downtown area," he says, and good telecommunications were critical to a good convention.
Smart City Networks now serves 42 convention centers and has provided telecom services at more than 75,000 trade shows and events, including NBA All-Star games and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The firm will be handling a large part of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
The holding company has grown to 500 employees and has annual revenue of about $100 million. The Smart City Telecom division in Lake Buena Vista serves Walt Disney World Resort and the community of Celebration.
"The future is using technology to make meetings and conventions transformational — using technology so people say, 'Wow! What an event,'" says Rubin, who has been involved in 10 startups — almost all tech-related. Earlier this year, Smart City set up a system called EventPath at an Orlando convention that allowed people to get credentials and badges at their hotels instead of waiting in line at the meetings.