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Gawronski says firm ready to begin work

[02/09/01] As soon as Vicksburg officials and Compass Facility Management finish negotiating, the company can begin putting into effect ideas for the operation and marketing of the Vicksburg Convention Center, said Larry Gawronski.

Gawronski, the first executive director of the convention center here is now director for venue development for Compass. He spoke at the Vicksburg Rotary Club Thursday.

Gawronski said he could not disclose details of the agreement his company and city officials are working on. However, Mayor Robert Walker said he and other city officials hope to have the agreement completed and signed by early March.

After nearly four years of usage below expectations, the convention center’s management will be privatized under a decision made by the Mayor and Aldermen. When the selection of Compass was announced in January, no time limit was specified for reaching an agreement.

Gawronski said the emphasis today seems to be on the larger facilities and the smaller ones can be left by the wayside.

But the smaller facilities are Compass’ specialty, he said.

It is also a small company and the Vicksburg Convention Center is its sixth client.

“Our focus and our mission is not to grab everything out there, but to look for the matches that Compass fits in the venue, in the market place … and the facility that matches Compass’ profile,” he said.

The downtown center here, costing about $13 million, is being paid for with bonds.

Its operational expenses are paid by rents, a 2 percent tax on rooms rented by the night in Vicksburg and a subsidy from the general fund. Gawronski said one idea might be to sell the name of the center to a private company.

“That may or may not be in the future for the Vicksburg Convention Center because the marketing plan is an evolutionary process that will be worked out with city administrators” and others to determine what is best for Vicksburg, he said.