Vicksburg Convention Center reports $8 million economic impact

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2019

For those who live in Vicksburg and Warren County, the Vicksburg Convention Center is a facility most have visited for choral events, luncheons or an evening of the Miss Mississippi Competition.

According to an annual report unveiled Wednesday, however, the convention center means more to Vicksburg than just a place to host events, it is attracting business and bringing in more than $8 million to the local economy.

During Wednesday’s annual meeting of the Vicksburg Convention Center’s Advisory Board, executive director Annette Kirklin released statistics that showed events hosted by the convention center during the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, had an overall impact on Vicksburg’s economy of $8.088 million, an increase of over $2.7 million from the year before.

“With these events, we work diligently with partners in our community and produce positive collaborations so attendees not only utilize the convention center but also have the amazing Vicksburg experience beyond our doors,” Kirklin said.

As for the year-over-year increase in economic impact, Kirklin said part of that is tied to Margaritaville being so closely located to the convention center.

“There are conventions that would not have talked to us before if we did not have the close hotel proximity,” she said. “Even though Margaritaville only has 117 rooms, when conventions come now that wouldn’t come before that benefits all of the hotel properties throughout the city.”

In all, the convention center reported 175 days of usage, with more than 50,000 people coming through the convention center’s doors. It also reported an increase in conventions hosted, with 18 held during the fiscal year.

“These outstanding results showcase the convention center’s ability to support either small, complex or large-scale events all the while continuing to ensure each customer has an enjoyable and satisfying experience,” Benny Terrell, chairman of the advisory board, said. Terrell was re-elected as chairman of the advisory board during Wednesday’s meeting.

While the report showed the convention center fell short of its revenue budget for the year, the $400,321 that was reported was a significant improvement over the previous two fiscal years. It also reported utilizing less subsidy money from the city of Vicksburg than the previous two years’ average.

“The Vicksburg Convention Center continues to be a major attraction for conferences and conventions throughout the region,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “The facility continues to receive high praise for its first-rate customer service.”

The economic impact figure projects what those attending conventions and other events at the convention center spend at hotels, restaurants and other businesses during their stay. In the report, the convention center detailed 13,387 hotel room nights that were booked as a direct result of events while acknowledging that is a conservative figure since many events don’t report total hotel rooms booked.

One of the convention center’s amenities to conventions and events is the availability of Palmertree Catering, which provides food and beverage services to those using the convention center. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Palmertree reported $376,153 in food and beverage sales, which was a slight decrease over the previous year.

And, Kirklin said, the 2019-2020 is already looking strong.

“The word is getting out. Vicksburg is a destination location, we’re a tourist destination, and that separates us from others who are competing for the same convention business,” she said. “There’s new business that we are fixing to put on the books, brand new conventions. There are also some repeat conventions.”

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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