More than $600 million in improvements to Orange County Convention Center moving forward

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some major changes are underway at the Orange County Convention Center, which big-name companies said are the only way for Orlando to compete with top convention centers around the country.

After Las Vegas, the Orange County Convention Center holds more trade shows than anywhere else in the country, bringing millions of people and billions of dollars into the Orlando economy each year.

“We go to a lot of bars,” said Tina, a woman attending the Microsoft Ignite convention.

But to keep the cash flowing and stay on top, area leaders believe the convention center needs to expand.

Last year, we reported the center’s biggest clients told Orange County that without more space, they would have to relocate.

"We actually had people crying and saying they were going to get fired because they could not get space in our show,” said Jennifer Hoff in June 2017.

Fourteen events have wait lists of hundreds of companies that want to spend their money here, but cannot.

Some conventions had vendors pitch tents in the parking lot to accommodate them.

"It was really difficult going from different concourses because there was so many people,” said Tina.

With a more than $600 million price tag, the grand concourse at the convention center will add more ballroom and meeting spaces and entirely encloses the walkway between the north and south concourses.

A multipurpose venue includes 200,000 square feet, free of columns, and able to seat up to 20,000 people.

The changes help Central Florida keep up with major cities, which recently have poured millions into improvements in their convention centers.