Hilton Worldwide solidified its grip on downtown Columbus business July 13, breaking ground on a $140-million, 532-room hotel linked by a walkway to the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The new hotel will complement the nearby Hampton Inn and Suites Columbus Downtown.

Joined by officials from Columbus, the Franklin County Convention Authority and Michael B. Coleman, the mayor of Ohio’s fastest-growing city, Hilton executive Ted Ratcliff promised that the Hilton Columbus Downtown will open in fall 2012 and help make Columbus a destination.

Sealing the publicly financed deal for the hotel, which Hilton will manage: The Southern Baptist Convention announced it would hold its first Columbus gathering in 2015, bringing some 16,000 attendees and $6.2 million in spending to the city.

In addition, the Ohio Florists’ Association, which wrapped up its 2010 gathering at the convention center that day, re-upped through 2016. Its officials had been talking about moving to Indianapolis, but the new Hilton will keep it in town.

“We’ll come, and perhaps we’ll come often,” said Donald Magee, associate vice president of finance for the Southern Baptist Convention.

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