By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It appears as though new management and work rule changes at the Pennsylvania Convention Center are helping to drive up occupancy and room rates at center city hotels.

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Preliminary numbers for 2014 show the center city occupancy rate was at 76 percent.  The last time that happened, in 1949, Harry Truman was president.

Peter Tyson, of the consulting firm PKF, says convention-driven hotel business is critical.

“It enables the hotels to charge higher rates to the commercial and leisure travelers — the people who are filling in what rooms are left,” he explains.

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Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, agrees.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for the (convention) center to be operating on all cylinders for all of the Philadelphia hotels,” he says.

Tyson says the room rate average of $173 last year matches the all-time high of 2008.  Room rates dropped to $147 during the recession.

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