NEW BEDFORD — The City of New Bedford is exploring the possibility of bringing a conference center to town.

A request for proposals is being sent out for consulting services for market analysis to see if the city could sustain a formidable conference center.

Mayor Jon Mitchell tells WBSM News if a study is performed and returns positive results, city officials could start thinking of strategies to get a conference center built.

"How that gets funded — how much of it is privately funded and how much is publicly funded — remains to be seen," said Mitchell. "How strong the market is remains to be seen. But we've got to take a look at it and that's why we're going to do a study."

Mitchell pointed to a recent meeting of the New England Fisheries Management Council in Newport, Rhode Island, saying such events that primarily concern New Bedford should be held in the city.

While the two hotels in downtown New Bedford do have conference space, Mitchell says they can't accommodate larger gatherings. The mayor says people attending smaller conferences in the city have given good feedback in the past.

"Good things happen when we bring people to New Bedford. With every small conference that we've hosted we've seen people walk away saying, 'You know, New Bedford's a great place. I'm so glad I came here.' The more that we can do that, I think the better off we'll be in the long run."

Mitchell says he would prefer the center be built in the downtown or along the waterfront if it's deemed feasible.

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