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Convention center taking lighter role

by Eplunus Colvin | March 23, 2022 at 3:03 a.m.
The Pine Bluff Convention Center is shown in this undated photo.

The Pine Bluff Convention Center will be taking on fewer responsibilities this year, according to Executive Director Joseph McCorvey.

During the Civic Auditorium Complex Commission conference call meeting on Tuesday, McCorvey said events for 2022 would be tweaked.

"We will just be responsible for two events -- a summer concert and the King Cotton," said McCorvey. "We will not be doing or be responsible for the Regional Park Forward Fest event as we've done in the past, which will lessen our expense on the overall budget."

McCorvey mentioned that many of the events incurred more expense than revenue. He also stated that hosting city events and meetings wasn't profitable. Though there is no monetary gain when hosting those events free of charge, both McCorvey and the commission felt the in-kind services held value for the community and had a lot of merit.

"The relationship with Go Forward Pine Bluff and the city working with these events is a good trade-off and partnership," said McCorvey, who added that those entities were working with him on the convention center hotel project.

Unlike other convention centers that charge their city a full usage rate, McCorvey said, the city of Pine Bluff doesn't have to pay to use the building.

"We are in Pine Bluff and we know budgets are tight," he said.

McCorvey said the Convention Center has also been used by the city to serve the general public with blood drives and food drives as well as a meeting venue for department heads and the Pine Bluff City Council.

Expenses are calculated to host those kinds of events such as utilities and employee salaries, but the commission all agreed they were good expenses to accrue and show how the convention center helps the community by giving back.

A suggestion was made to earmark those expenses in the financials to show separately what the convention center is contributing to the community.

Although the convention center will be taking a step back from the Regional Park Forward Fest, McCorvey said he will still be responsible for handling the contracts for the music talent and collecting funds for services and food trucks.

The Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation and GFPB will continue on with Forward Fest, according to McCorvey.

In other business, McCorvey said a soil inspection has been completed for the Convention Center hotel project, and he is currently waiting on the results. He also said the security fence behind the Convention Center was complete.

In January, the Pine Bluff Civic Auditorium Complex Commission voted to allow McCorvey to move forward to complete necessary projects.

McCorvey said a 14-foot security fence was needed on the loading dock to provide security for employees and talent as well as to prevent theft.

"People have dumped furniture and other debris in our waste can," said McCorvey, who added that people have attempted to steal several items from the area, including a vehicle.

The other approval from the commission was to move forward with the geotechnical engineering investigation, which deals with the dirt and foundation as well as an asbestos and a lead paint survey.

McCorvey said he was advised by Beechwood Pinnacle Hotels and the P3Group during the meeting in January that the investigation must be done before any demolition could take place.

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