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VenuWorks agrees to cut fees as convention center works to rebuild business

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has approved an agreement with VenuWorks that will reduce its monthly management fee for the Vicksburg Convention Center.

VenuWorks has a contract with the city to manage the convention center. Under the agreement, which is outlined in a letter from VenuWorks CEO Steve Peters, VenuWorks will reduce its $10,200 base monthly fee by 25 percent beginning in November.

The reduction is until further notice with a re-evaluation after 90 days.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the agreement follows a meeting with VenuWorks officials.

“I requested them to review the operations (of the convention center) in light of COVID and the decrease in the use of the convention center and see if they could cut back some on the fee,” she said.

The reduction, Thomas said, “Should reduce the city’s obligation to VenuWorks. Hopefully, they’ll get back on track when COVID eases.”

The fee reduction is one of several changes involving the convention center recently announced by VCC VenuWorks officials to attract more local and statewide meetings and conventions to the center.

“These opportunities will assist locals during a time when budgets are tight, assist state meetings when travel is limited and extend a hand to the city administration when there are budget limitations,” according to a joint press release.

Mayor George Flags Jr. said the changes “make sense. We have to adjust to these uncertain conditions so that we can at least get some of our dollar’s worth out of downtown.”

The main incentive in the package is a price break on normal convention and meeting fees for organizations, individuals and businesses that reside or originate in Vicksburg and Warren County.

For events reserved by Feb. 28, 2021, a sliding scale of discounts will be provided based on the size of the event. For events with 100 or less people, a 10 percent discount will be available; for those events with 101 to 250 people, a 15 percent discount will be applied; a 20 percent discount will be provided for those events with 251 to 500 people.

The largest discount, 25 percent, will be afforded to those events with more than 501 people attending.

Besides the sliding discount scale for events scheduled before Feb. 28, the convention center staff is working with Visit Vicksburg on a Back-to-Business Meeting Incentive Program to attract meetings and conventions.

Visit Vicksburg Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland said the program offers rebates to planners who plan events at the convention center.

“They can go to our website and go to our meetings tab,” Strickland said. “We’re hoping to attract more statewide meetings and try to get people to use our convention center.”

Under the program, if a particular event meets a list of criteria, which includes being scheduled at some point during 2021, the event includes a block of rooms at a Vicksburg-based hotel or lodging property. If the event has more than 50 people, the event organizer or organization would receive a cash incentive from Visit Vicksburg.

If the event has between 50 to 99 people, the cash incentive would be $100; if the event has between 100 and 199 people the incentive would be $250. The largest cash incentive, $500, would be paid to those event organizers who bring in an event with 200 people or more.

Groups not eligible for the program include weddings, fraternal, social events, sporting events, and group tours.

Also, Visit Vicksburg is providing virtual in-house meeting equipment to be used by the VCC to offer increased meeting amenities for planners. Standard opportunities including tour coordination, name badges and visitor’s bags for meeting planners will continue to be provided by Visit Vicksburg.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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