N.O. hosting national auto dealers convention

The 97th annual NADA Convention & Expo will be held in New Orleans in January — the 10th time the convention has been held in the Big Easy since 1973.

NADA represents nearly 16,000 new-car and -truck dealerships, with more than 32,000 franchises, both domestic and international.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will address the general session and keynote remarks will be made during the convention by Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, and NADA Chairman David Westcott, a new-car dealer in Burlington, N.C.

“New Orleans looks better than it ever has,” said Desmond Roberts, chairman of NADA’s convention committee. “The city has been through a lot, but it too has rebounded and thrived just like the auto industry. It’s fitting to be in a city as tough and determined as our industry.”

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was renovated this year. There’s been a 55 percent increase in the number of restaurants over the past seven years, nearly $800 million in hotel upgrades and $77 million in street improvements, including a new streetcar line connecting the Sports District to the Central Business District and French Quarter.

The NADA convention runs Jan. 24-27 and includes dealer-manufacturer franchise meetings, educational workshops, hundreds of exhibits on the expo floor and networking events.

“The city has a festive atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else — from the amazing Creole cuisine and culture to the historic sites and music,” said Roberts, a Chevrolet dealer in Hodgkins, Ill.