By Cathie Anderson
Utah-based Steve Down Cos. initially bought land in Rocklin for its new event venue – called The Falls Event Center – but the organization sold that property and instead built its center in Roseville.
Roseville’s city leaders had expressed interest in using the facility, Down said, and government business is important to making his business pencil out. The Falls in Roseville, 240 Conference Center Drive, opened in January and it’s Down’s second event center in the region. His group opened the The Falls in Elk Grove, 8280 Elk Grove Blvd., in October 2014.
“The project in Elk Grove, for example, was $12 million, and when we invest $12 million and beautify the community, we hope to have the mutual respect from the city leaders, and that’s what we’ve found in Roseville,” Down said.
A serial entrepreneur, Down said he decided to go into the event-space business because he had heard frustrations from customers. Many premium venues require customers to use in-house catering services or work with a limited number of caterers, Down said. Some venues demand high prices for small extras such as projection screens and extension cords.
At The Falls, guests can do whatever they want when it comes to food, Down said. And if they need an extension cord, they won’t be gouged on pricing.
Down and his private-equity investors own nine other businesses, including a financial education program known as Financially Fit and a continuing education company for dental professionals called CE Karma. Both rent venues where they hold seminars, Down said, so he has firsthand experience with the need for a reasonably priced space for business events.
CE Karma has spent an average of $7,000 for conference room space and lunch for 100 doctors, Down said, but The Falls can be booked for half that price for a similar event.
Couples looking to get married can spend between $5,000 and $6,000 to book a Falls center building on a weekend day, he added. With the average wedding in the U.S. costing $32,000, and $14,000 of that going to the reception venue, according to the website TheKnot.com, The Falls compares favorably.
“I’ve married off two daughters,” Down said. “I know the price of a wedding, and a $32,000 wedding these days is nothing extravagant. So if you can have an entire venue for somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 … and you have the flexibility of doing whatever you want on the food, that … is a viable option in the community.”
If The Falls isn’t booked within 30 days of a date, the management works with nonprofit partners to identify individuals in need of a free space for their event.
“Why allow that space to expire? It’s like throwing out perfectly good food,” said Down, whose other businesses also employ give-back strategies. “There are nonprofits in desperate need of elegant space for maybe that deserving young girl who’s getting married in a single-parent home. Maybe the family lives in an apartment and there aren’t a lot of options for a wedding reception. If it’s recommended by one of the charities we partner with, that would be an example of a give-back for The Falls Event Center.”
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