Vicksburg Convention Center dips in revenue, but officials remain optimistic

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New development around the Vicksburg Convention Center could mean a boost to the facility, which will also be undergoing some anticipated renovations over the next several months.

The VCC Advisory Board held their annual meeting Wednesday and got an update on the past year, as well as a presentation on the facility celebrating two decades.

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The fiscal year annual report indicates the facility finished $73,479 in the red for the year, which was due mainly to an unexpected $42,000 bill for repairs and maintenance, according to VCC Executive Director Annette Kirklin.

“We also had less events, which means less people, which means less income,” Kirklin said.

The VCC budgeted 170 event usage days and finished with 159, while they forecasted 50,000 in attendance and managed 43,510. Budgeted income for the year was $441,160, but was actually $357,169. Operating expenses overran the $955,629 by $10,682 for the year.

The VCC did generate more than $5.8 million to the Vicksburg economy with a tax revenue of $535,663.

There were 26 conventions, which led the way in events that were held at the facility over the last year. Kirklin wants to see that increase with more people coming into Vicksburg from out of town to spend money and stay in hotels.

“Conventions mean heads and beds,” Kirklin said. “We average $140 per person per convention.”

Kirklin doesn’t believe the decline in the number of events is a trend.

“We have a great product here,” Kirklin said. “The opening of the new hotel next door and the government incubator across the street will be benefits. There are some wonderful things on the horizon.”

Kirklin was referring to the new Portofino Hotel on Mulberry Street that will include the Margaritaville Resort — a family entertainment center. Portions of the facility are expected to open in the spring.

Development of the Mississippi Hardware Building into a technology transfer center is underway and will include small and middle-sized businesses, as well as a microbrewery.

The convention center will also undergo its own renovations with a new escalator to replace the one that has been a thorn in the side of the facility for a couple of years. Kirklin said it will take about three months to replace the escalator. An upgrade to the south end elevator, a lighting control system and replacing flooring are also planned as capital improvement projects.

VCC Advisory Board Chairman Benny Terrell said he is proud of the work the convention center staff has done and looks forward to the future.

“The staff is working hard and we are looking forward to next year being a better year,” Terrell said.

He also thanked Mayor George Flaggs Jr., and the aldermen for their commitment to the facility.

Flaggs said the proposed sports complex, which is expected to be constructed within a year could also be beneficial to the convention center.

“People want to come to Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. “I feel good about the opportunities and future of the convention center.”