Convention numbers prove the basics still work

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2009

“More business on the books” led to a revenue increase for Vicksburg Convention Center in the first three months of its fiscal year compared to last year. That’s important, but more important is that more events, especially those scheduled by out-of-towners, translates to more business for Vicksburg hotels, motels, casinos, restaurants and other service, retail, entertainment and tourism attractions.

Larry Gawronski, executive director of VenuWorks, gave the report to city appointees on the advisory board for convention center and auditorium operations last week.

A total of 56 events took place in October, November and December at the facilities VenuWorks has a contract to manage for the city. Included were 14 meetings, 13 receptions, 11 banquets, six conferences, four trade shows and eight large events, such as “Disney Live! Winnie The Pooh,” the 2008 Business Expo, 7th Annual Festival of Trees, V105 Christmas Caroling Contest and Rage on the River III.

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The old auditorium on Monroe Street and the much newer convention center on Mulberry have always required operating supplements from taxpayers. That will continue to be true. Significant, though, is Gawronski’s statement that VenuWorks is on pace to meet a three-year goal of halving the net operating deficit by the end of fiscal year 2010. Net operating losses were reduced to $246,639 during fiscal 2008 from a $354,807 operating loss during fiscal 2007. Those gaps are filled by an allocation from the city treasury.

Gawronski is a proven pro in promotions. Hired to manage the convention center even before it was built 14 years ago, he is an enthusiastic proponent of prosperity in Vicksburg. His tenets are marketing to reach new clients and top-notch service to gain repeat business. In otherwise gloomy economic times, it’s good to be able to report that the basics of good business management still yield dividends.