Convention center director reassigned; praised by company president

logoVICKSBURG — The operator of the Vicksburg Convention Center is moving VCC executive director Troy Thorn to another post and will begin looking for new leader.

The Vicksburg Post reports that Thorn came to the VCC in January 2012 replacing Larry Gawronski, who left to accept a similar position managing the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, Iowa.

During Thorn’s tenure the convention center experienced the lowest two years of city subsidies in its 17-year history. His last day will be Dec. 31.

The convention center was operated by the city until the board approved the contract with VenuWorks, then known as Compass.

The convention center is funded primarily by a 2 percent sales tax levied on hotel rooms in the city, which in 2012 generated $600,930. It also receives an annual subsidy from the city, which has averaged about $400,000 a year, according to city records.

“We are proud of the work that Troy has done for us at the Vicksburg Convention Center and Auditorium,” said Steve Peters, president of VenuWorks. “We would not be stealing him away from Vicksburg so soon except for the fact that he is such a good match for this new account. Our new executive director will have a great foundation to work from.”

Peters said VenuWorks will begin the search for a new executive director immediately. The search will center on finding someone from the Vicksburg area with experience in serving and marketing to the Mississippi convention marketplace.

Last week the city announced a new five-year deal with VenuWorks that will provide an easier way to determine performance bonuses for the Iowa-based management firm, according to contract specifics.

Under the new contract, the city will pay VenuWorks $10,000 a month to manage the convention center with a 3 percent annual increase. The city had paid $12,446 a month under the old contract. Incentives built into the new pact could net the company an extra $30,000 a year.

VenuWorks will receive $5,000 if the convention center exceeds the number of events projected in the center’s approved annual business plan and budget by 10 percent. It will receive an additional $5,000 if it exceeds the number of events by 15 percent.

Another $5,000 kicks in if event attendance figures exceed projected figures for the year by 10 percent. It gets an additional $5,000 if attendance exceeds projections by 15 percent.

An extra $10,000 will come in for any fiscal year VenuWorks operates the convention center with a budget that requires no city subsidy other than the revenue from the 2 percent hotel tax dedicated to the convention center. If the city has to give VenuWorks an extra subsidy besides the tax revenue, VenuWorks does not get the $10,000.

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