Friday, January 11, 2019

Visit Jackson Tries to Bail out Convention Center

Visit Jackson agreed to contribute $450,000 to the Jackson Convention Center as its fortunes continued to worsen.  The Convention Center lost $1.4 million in FY 2018 and continued to lose money through the end of the year.



The Board of Directors refused to bailout JCC.  The Board stated in a November 29, 2018 letter sent to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba that it would be "inappropriate" to give additional money to JCC.  Board President Robert Gibbs said that the funds "will be used for means other than promoting tourism."  However, the Board reversed itself a day later and decided to provide the funds to JCC.

Mr. Gibbs said Visit Jackson's reserves and investments would fund the donation even though Visit Jackson will encounter "financial challenges" due to the support of the Convention Center.  The November 30 letter states the funds will be disbursed under a schedule:

December 1, 2018: $257,000
February 1, 2019: $50,000
March 1, 2019: $50,000
May 2019: $43,000



The Jackson Convention Center has been plagued by severe losses for years.  The trend continued in the new fiscal year as JCC lost $248,156 in October and November.  The Convention Center operated at a loss of $1.4 million in 2018.  The attendance was only 107,767 as it fell from 131,910 in 2017.  Income stayed roughly the same as it "only" fell by $100,000 to $1.8 million in 2018.  There were 16 fewer events (151) compared to the year before as well.

The financial performances of 2018 and 2017 were even.  However, the Convention Center performed substantially worse than its projections.  The facility consistently missed its budget by much larger margins than if the budget has simply adopted the financial figures of 2017. 

Actual Attendance: 107,967
Projected Attendance: 158,000
Difference: 50,033

Event Income: $1.8 million
Projected income: $2.1 million
Difference: $0.3 million

Number of Events: 135
Projected Events: 212
Difference: 77

JCC's 2018 losses were $1.4 million.  However, depreciation expense has been approximately $2.6 million per year (give or take a few hundred thousand dollars).  A similar depreciation expense will increase the loss to $4 million for 2018.

The losses when depreciation expenses are included are:

2017:  $4.4 million
2016: $4.2 million
2015: $4.1 million
2014: $4.2 million

The financial woes improved somewhat in the first two months of FY 2019.  Income rose by $81,000 and the net operating loss is  $100,000 less than the same period in 2017.  JCC paid $205,000 to SMG under a management contract in 2018.

Kingfish note: That was the news, now for the scuttlebutt.  The Street Committee says that  the Mayor leaned mighty heavily on Visit Jackson to contribute $450,000 to the Convention Center after the Board refused to do so.  Hence the sudden change of heart by Visit Jackson.

 


These financial statements are unaudited and were obtained through a public records request. 





 

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is almost impossible to be successfulaa with a radical socialist mindset when all of the surrounding cities operate on the free market

Anonymous said...

You mean "If you build it they will come" is not always true? Say it ain't so!

Anonymous said...

Why would a conference or business schedule 300-600 people to meet at the Jackson Conv. Center when there are no hotels nearby that are capable of housing this number of people; transportation and parking are a nightmare; and crime is a routine part of daily life in Jackson? This may be an explanation for the red ink!

Anonymous said...

Wel, well, well. I remember when this project was sold to the true believers that this was The City with Soul's (or whatever slogan was around at the time) ticket to the big-time. It was going to revitalize downtown and big spending convention folks on expense accounts would pack the restaurants and hotels and retail merchants across the city would have cash registers jingling. The nearby Farish Street revitalization would entertain the visitors with a B.B. King Club and people eating and drinking far into the night. Plese pass me some Kool-aid. I believed.

Anonymous said...

I expect that the Jackson convention center’s days are numbered. When the new convention center in Flowood is complete I doubt that very many events will be held in Jackson. If Visit Jackson wants to throw away 450k it I wold be much better spent on fixing some of those huge potholes.

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't take $2 million of compensation expenses to keep that thing running. There's your problem, not the center itself. Its been turned into just another teet.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is "Visit Jackson" and how is it funded?

Anonymous said...

Didn’t the Flowood Convention Center/hotel/stay and play get poopooed??? Correct me if I’m wrong....

Anonymous said...

10:31am

The hotel in Flowood is not meant to compete with the Jackson Convention Center, with exception to smaller meetings.

It's meeting space is somewhere on the order of 1/8th the size of JCC

Anonymous said...

The lack of a CC hotel is the direct result of the screw-job we took from Mayor Felonious Frank Melton and his shady Texas crony. The City is trying to correct this problem right now, but it may be too late to keep this place from going under.

Anonymous said...

Down the rat hole
It will be closed in a few years-

Anonymous said...

A total of 17 million was lost in just 4 years. Wow! Wait till the Flowood Convention Center is built. Then the Jackson Convention Center will go the same way of Mermorial, Smith Wills Stadium, & the Zoo. The taxpayers will be blessed with higher taxes to keep the creditors happy. Why doesn't Chockway get his NAACP & other black active groups to book the JCC? The JCC was built just after Meridian built their convention center. Main motivation for the convention center is that Jackson didn't want to lose the capital city spotlight.

Kingfish said...

True, if you include depreciation expenses.

Jackson Jambalaya Archivist said...

JJ Flashback 2011 #1

The ranks of the downtown boosters is replete with revisionists who have been working feverishly to walk back all that was presented as the case for the convention center in 2004.

Voters were told in 2004 that the center itself would break even operationally when in fact it has lost more than one million dollars in each of the last two years. Today if you bring that up the apologists are quick to quip something like 'convention centers don't make money' because they need to draw attention away from the fact that voters were told the center would break even.

Today the hue and cry is that the convention center is losing business opportunities because national conventions and their planners require convention center attached hotels. But back in 2004 proponents of the center argued that the center would be successful even without an attached hotel.

They made the we'll-be-fine-without-a-hotel argument because Harvey Johnson's own consultant -- C.H. Johnson Consulting which is one of the consulting firms he's using now to justify the hotel madness -- advised that a convention center in Jackson would be successful without having
to rely on any regional and national conventions for at least one decade after the center opened.

"Jackson Convention Center Implementation Plan", Prepared by C.H. Johnson Consulting, Inc, Section 3, Page 16, Category: Implications for Jackson.

"Jackson, as the State capital and largest city in the State, has an opportunity to successfully enter the market for state association conventions, local and regional tradeshows, and consumer events. As regional and national conventions and tradeshows continue to increase in number and size, Jackson will enjoy increasing demand from these segments as well. However, over the first ten years of convention center operations Jackson will be primarily dependent upon state and local event demand."

JJ Flashback 2011 #2

Unfortunately few of the convention center proponents either read, or will admit to having read, the following warnings from C.H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. about the trustworthiness of their own work.

"Jackson Convention Center Implementation Plan", Prepared by C.H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. Provided on the page before the first page of the report.

"The findings presented herein, reflect analysis of primary and secondary sources of information. Johnson Consulting utilized sources deemed to be reliable but cannot guarantee their accuracy. Moreover, estimates and analysis presented in this study are based on trends and assumptions, which usually result in differences between the projected results and actual results. And because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected, those differences may be material."

You just can't make this up. Harvey Johnson's own consultant warned that their work may prove to be shit and sure as heck that is what happened. Now Harvey is using the same consultant again to justify the hotel deal?

Anonymous said...

Jackson State can/will utilize the property.

Anonymous said...

Another legislatively unauthorized bailout pushed by Antar Lumumba.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Jackson Zoo needs a new home . . . Win, Win.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone have a convention in a crime infested dump like Jackson ??? Duh

Anonymous said...

Kingfish has been reporting on this convention center debacle now for TWELVE years. Hit the tip jar folks because he is the ONLY journalist in metro area worthy of your financial support.

Anonymous said...

If your job requires you to go to Jackson for a convention just quit.

Anonymous said...

After the consultants, contractors, political nabobs, and municipal cronies have made their money (and in some cases moved to Madison or Atlanta) they can plant one of those nice historical markers in front of the Convention Center. They have some really nice ones on Farish Street especially by the Alamo theater. The Alamo is a memorial to a bygone era. The Convention Center can be a memorial to the ongoing era of bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Would you want to take on the liability for the well being and safety of 400-500 attendees at your convention in downtown Jackson ? Me neither !

Anonymous said...

I blame it on the failure to build that 25,000 seat arena.

Anonymous said...

Where is that David Watkins guy and what is his "legal status"? He should be sharing a room with Lamar Adams.

Anonymous said...

I posted the following comment in March of 2018, less than one year ago. Here is the link.

The C in JCVB stands for Convention. How many conventions have they booked, ever?

In the entire history of the Jackson Convention Complex, how many national conventions have been held there? It has been almost a decade since this place opened and there has not been one convention of note. What is the JCVB doing to bring a convention here?

The only upcoming events through April are a Cisco presentation, a luncheon for a pregnancy group, and a Barbizon model search (e.g. get "discovered" and pay for modeling and acting classes).

This week is the Mississippi Young Bankers' Convention. It is being held in Point Clear, Alabama. In May, the Bankers' Convention will be at Sandestin, Florida. The Mississippi State Medical Association is doing the same. In July, the Mississippi Wholesale Distributors Association and the Mississippi Bar Association will go to Destin for their conventions.

The JCVB can't even convince state organizations to use this place!

We were told we needed this facility to compete with other cities in the Southeast. This group has had a decade and they have FAILED. MISERABLY! Don't even think about complaining that there's no motel nearby!

Two day rap shows that lose over half a million dollars are the best they can do? Is anyone driving the train here?

Maybe they should name some more things after Medgar Evers.

Anonymous said...

I drove by the CC earlier this week. That electronic marquee out front is in sad shape. Half the panels are discolored. It needs a major round of maintenance.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the National Baptist Convention is there next week.

Has the JCC actually pulled in a national convention with this group?

Anonymous said...

Next!

Anonymous said...

The people of Jackson are creating a citywide ghetto. A convention center in a ghetto is an iceberg in hell. Hope and denial will not prevent it's ultimate collapse. Remember: It's the PEOPLE not the building!

I take no pleasure in this announcement.

Kingfish said...

Don't worry, the city has a plan....

Anonymous said...

Antar moves slower than Harvey Johnson. No denying it.

Anonymous said...

I don’t forsee Jackson’s decline reversing anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of similarities between this fiasco and the "save-the-zoo" arguments. The zoo has been around for decades and has now proven to be an un-viable enterprise for the city. At least the CC supporters can argue that Jackson had never had a CC, so it was worth a shot. Zoo supporters don't have that argument to fall back on.

A city with a sub-standard water system and crumbling streets can't afford a zoo or a convention center.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all the COJ exist for in reality is to cycle money around so cronies can dip their beaks.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for Leland Speed and Jeff Good...

Happy?

Anonymous said...

When he said "radical" he meant it in the Caracas/Havana sense, not the Ninja Turtles sense.

Like crumbling roads, lines for food, get-out-if-you-can radical.

Anonymous said...

I love the Lumumba hate. Klassy. The current mayor was just out of high school when this boondoggle was foisted upon us by a different mayor and a metric butt ton of white business folks. None of which are getting taken to task for this, but you want to bag on the mayor because he has a first name you can make fun of? Either he is a fiendish, hyper intelligent black power super villian, or an incompetent rube. Pick one, redneck. The cognitive dissonance back and forth is mind numbing.

CVB? How long has the current board been serving? Is that in line with their by laws? Gibbs' business acumen is well documented, as is Crotwell's. Tamale Fest. Rhythm and Lose Fest. Time for the legislature to stop re-upping the CVB's funding and let it go the way of Gibbs' hotel, or Crotwell's restaurant and retail foodie business, or any of the money sucks the CVB has been funding for far too long. Look up and down your street and think how many potholes that money that Gibbs squandered could have filled. How many cops you could have had on the streets. But yeah, the first term mayor is to blame.

Stop funding the boondoggles and the market will catch up. Downtown real estate is way over valued because of these projects coming any day now. Entergy's renovation on Commerce Street should tell you all you need to know about their confidence in the Capitol Green project ever coming to be. Once the prospect of gubmint lucre disappears, the prices will settle down. Folks with capital and drive will give it a shot. Some will win, some will lose. Either way, none of us are on the hook for it and we quit enriching the same handful of windbags.

Anonymous said...

10:31 nailed it. Convention Center is very nice, but no way does it require that heavy of a salary load. You can't compare the CC to the zoo. Good grief.

Anonymous said...

@11:58 (2nd) you said Cisco presentation, but I was hoping you meant SisQo concert... that would draw a crowd!

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember "way back" when some of Jackson's finest all dressed up in their Sunday Go To Meeting Attire telling us that they fully expect to operate the convention center at a loss. Heck, they said, ALL convention centers operate at a loss...One good thing about this is there is no need to catch SNL because there is plenty of local comedy for all!

Anonymous said...

There never has been and apparently never will be any sort of 'attraction' to draw national conventions to Jackson, and that's the root of the problem with the JCC. New Orleans has the French Quarter and all that makes up NO, Destin has the beach, Memphis has Beale Street and the Blues, Atlanta & Dallas have so many things. Regardless of what anybody thinks, Jackson is not and never will be a destination spot, so any sort of convention center was never going to make it. The smaller one that is currently being built in Flowood will probably do okay catering to smaller conventions/meetings. But the JCC was way over-built, has very few nearby hotels & restaurants, and shit for parking. It was doomed before it ever got off the drawing board!!

Anonymous said...

Tell us @1:46, exactly what has Lumumba accomplished?

Anonymous said...

Sad because the facility is really nice. But not connecting hotel and parking garage wasn’t smart. Truth be told crime is everywhere and the crime in Jackson isn’t happening where the CC is located so stop talking about crime. The other downside is not much to do in downtown Jackson after 5p.

Anonymous said...

KF has pointed out a number of times that the location is ridiculous. It should have been built close to the interstate for visibility and ease of access, but they stuck it way down on Goula to feed this false notion of a downtown renaissance.

After all these years and millions of dollars, what do we have to show for our bustling downtown? The King Edward and the Standard Life apartments, the Iron Horse and Parlor Market, a largely empty bus/train station, a bunch of rotting brick sidewalks and empty storefronts on Farish, a couple of undersized roundabouts on Capitol, and a Convention Complex that loses money on an epic scale.

But build a hotel and watch it all spring to life. This time next year there will be Seventeen Blues Clubs on Farish, right?

Anonymous said...

During the 2004 campaign the voters were told the convention center would be financed using revenue bonds but after the fact (bait-and-switch) the financing used general obligation bonds placing the massive debt on the backs of Jackson cratering tax base. Credible messengers, including industry expert Heywood Sanders, warned before the election that this would be an economic fiasco of staggering proportions for Jackson's treasury and now, 14 years later, even the worst case financial disaster scenarios have all been exceeded.

Anonymous said...

As a local business, trying to host and event there is impossible.
Make it more friendly to do business with and your funds will come back

Anonymous said...

Speaking of downtown, anyone know how the Westin is doing?

Anonymous said...

Meridian has a convention center?

Anonymous said...

It’s funny, the Westin was supposed to help the CC. Instead, the Westin is a the CC’s biggest competition

Anonymous said...

In my work I attend some national conventions (Anaheim, Chicago, Vegas, etc.). I also attend some regional conventions (Montgomery, Birmingham, Biloxi, etc.). They all have one thing in common. That is the ability for me to book a hotel room in the hotel that hosts the convention, or at least a hotel that is adjacent to the convention center.

The most similar thing Jackson has is the Hilton on County Line (it has hotel, food, and meeting space). The Hilton is just too small for a convention of any size. Or downtown you have the convention center or trademark. Neither has a nice hotel nearby with easy access (like across the street). The trademark does have hotels across the street, but they are dumps. And if I bring my spouse, she has nothing within walking distance to do (eating, shopping, etc.). It's not going to work in Jackson.

You have to have the convention space, hotel, eating, shopping, all together in a few walkable blocks.

Anonymous said...


Mayor Harvey Johnson, Clarion Ledger editors, the Donner and Matt at JFP, Jeff Good, Leland Speed, Haley Fisackerly and Entergy, Ben Allen, Richard Hickson and Harry Walker at Trustmark, Derrick Johnson and many other so called community activists leaders, Hayes Dent, Donna Mabus Echols, Sam Begley, John Maxey, the chef owner of Juleps.

Anonymous said...

I think the city should turn it into a casino, with a pot dispensary!

Anonymous said...

Twin Lakes was the ticket.

Anonymous said...

How can the expenses be so high? The thing gets used pretty regularly but the operating expenses are through the roof.

Anonymous said...

You forgot blowhard Beau Whittington.

Anonymous said...

Westin is reportedly doing very well and yes it is some competition for smaller events. It’s very nice.

Anonymous said...

I know of a national Fortune 500 company that was planning a meeting in Jackson. Their planning committee arrived and had three days of no water . They decided that the lack of reliable safe drinking water was too big of a negative. They were also concerned about why they had to have police officers at all the interstate gas stations.

Al Underwood said...

I've exhibited there a few years ago...parking was (and is) a problem...

I exhibit at conventions all over the country....a nearby hotel is imperative .

Anonymous said...

How many "no show" jobs are on the payroll? Asking for a friend.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This woke up the open field subdivision folks.

Cynical Sam said...

The convention center isn't about hosting conventions; it's about $preading some love around to friend$ and relative$. Jackson is America's third world poster child.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jackson, when will you get it? Jackson is a pass-through town sandwiched between a A- market (NOLA) and a B- market (Memphis). It’s not a destination town. When will that be understood? It’s the little brother syndrome who always tries to keep up. Instead, little brother should focus on the necessary things, i.e. infrastructure and being radical.

Anonymous said...

It will never break even. Convention centers never do. WhatJackson needs is for the state to build a new coliseum, something like the new arena st Ole Miss for concerts, basketball games and other events.

Anonymous said...

who was the contractor on this? please don't tell me it was the common thread of Yates, which weaves its way through so many of these disastrous sucking of tax payer dollars.

Anonymous said...

"Don't worry, the city has a plan...."
January 11, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Good one, Kingfish! It sounds like reassurances uttered in Berlin, in 1945: "Don't worry. The Fuhrer has a secret weapon!"

Anonymous said...

Close the zoo, close the convention center, count your loses and realize Jackson for the shithole it is

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