ATLANTA -- Steve Harvey thought moving his annual Neighborhood Awards from Las Vegas to Atlanta would be more economically feasible for his loyal radio listeners to attend.
"Probably 90 percent of my radio listeners are east of the Mississippi River," the actor and comedian said. "Vegas was great to us. But I thought if we moved this to a hot city like Atlanta, economically we could save people a lot of money."
Harvey is hosting the 12th annual national convention in Atlanta for the first time. The four-day event will be held at Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center. It began Thursday.
The Neighborhood Awards, which recognizes small-town business people, is expected to draw about 150,000 attendees.
Harvey called the cross-country move logical, because 2.1 million listeners of his "Steve Harvey Morning Show" are within a seven-hour drive radius from Atlanta.
"We gave the award show back to the people," said Rushion McDonald, who created the awards with Harvey. The event originated in Los Angeles under the name Hoodie Awards in 2001 and spent nine years in Las Vegas.
But the primary initiative behind the awards is to honor people and businesses that uplift their neighborhoods. The fan-nominated awards offer 12 categories including best church, beauty salon, barbecue restaurant, community leader, high school, barbershop and church choir.
"This is like an unpretentious Grammy Awards," Hamilton said.