BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that the National Association of Black Journalists conference will bring $7.5 million to the Magic City.

Vickie Ashford-Thompson from the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau said NABJ is the largest convention they’ve brought to Birmingham since the pandemic – booking all downtown hotels for 7,000 room nights.

“It’s really exciting to know that we can play with the big boys,” Ashford-Thompson said. “Birmingham is considered a smaller city compared to others but we’re showing that we can do our thing, too.”

Visitors like Elisha Brown and Rebekah Barber from North Carolina were walking outside of the BJCC supporting Santos Coffee.

“I’m excited to explore and contribute to the economy in any way I can – even if it’s just a little cup of coffee,” Brown said.

Birmingham City Councilor Hunter Williams is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee. He said the city’s goal is to keep positioning Birmingham as a unique place with rich history.

“Everything that this city offers is unique to not only the southeast, but really to the nation,” Williams said. “Really, it is a unique place to come and visit and I think we’re starting to see that.”

Which is exactly what brought Barber here.

“We can’t forget about the south and it’s just so important to support local areas,” Barber said. “I’m excited to be here, too and ready explore.”

Ashford-Thompson said having journalists in Birmingham will help to keep shining a light on Birmingham even once the convention ends on Sunday.

“Seeing it on our local news will bring our own citizens out to see what Birmingham has and they’ll be able to tell the story of their own city – let alone the media telling it – they’ll be able to tell the story as well,” Ashford-Thompson said.

Sheraton Birmingham and Westin Birmingham Complex General Manager Brian Hilger is excited to have the extra guests and sent this statement to CBS 42:

“We are extremely excited and honored to host National Association of Black Journalist 2023 Convention and Career Fair. The Sheraton and Westin are completely sold out with conference attendees. It is great to be able showcase our hotels and Birmingham’s southern hospitality.”

Complex General Manager Brian Hilger