Convention center 2017 report released months behind schedule

By ANTHONY WARREN,

The Jackson Convention Center’s 2017 annual report was just released, months behind schedule, and no one seems to be concerned.

The center typically releases an annual report each year, to give commissioners and taxpayers a snapshot of how the center is doing.

The 2017 report should have been released last spring, but the draft report was just put on the convention center’s website in January.

Even so, members of the convention center’s governing body are not concerned, and point to the fact that the report is not required under city code.

“This is not an issue of serious concern,” said Capital City Convention Center Commission Chair Fred Banks.

Banks, though, said that even though the document is voluntarily released, the commission and the center’s management “strive for perfection. We are always disappointed when we fall short of our own expectations and (will) strive to avoid that circumstance in the future.”

The center is managed by SMG World, a management firm that operates event venues across the country. The agency has managed the center since it opened in 2009.

General Manager Al Rojas said the report was delayed because center officials were focused on other priorities.

“For the lack of a better excuse, it just got pushed to the side,” he said. “It’s a good message, we just missed the timeline.”

Rojas was referring to the message provided in the report, which includes the number of events and event days held at the center, as well as its annual revenue.

The 2017 report covered fiscal year 2017, which ran from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017.

The reports are typically released each spring, following the previous budget year.

 

For 2017, the center hosted 151 events, which drew nearly 132,000 visitors, according to the report. By comparison, the center hosted 223 events in 2016, which attracted 182,000 people to the center.

Rojas said even though the report was late, convention activity data was provided regularly to the center’s commission.

The commission was created by state statute to oversee convention center business. The nine-member panel includes representatives from the city’s tourism industry and business communities.

Members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Jackson City Council.

Current members are Banks, Mavis James, Duane O’Neill, Alan Walters, Wes Scrape, Alex Thomas, Mende Alford and Diann Alford, according to the centers’ website.

The complex is located at the corner of Pascagoula and Lamar streets in downtown Jackson. It includes 330,000 square feet of exhibit, ballroom and meeting space. Construction is funded by a portion of the city’s tourism tax, which is assessed on hotels, motels and restaurants.

Jackson residents approved a ballot referendum to build the center in 2004.