- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - A South Carolina company is the only firm expressing interest in taking over the operations of the Oxford Conference Center.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen this year issued a Request for Proposals to management companies interested in taking over the center.

The Oxford Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1hT80MU ) that the only company responding to the request was The Wilderman Group from Charleston, S.C.

The city currently spends about $750,000 a year for the center. Aldermen have been discussing whether the center should be closed, repurposed or taken over by a company better able to run a conference center.


Opposition to closing the center was voiced at a public hearing. The mayor and aldermen then began to focus on finding a company to take over the operations.

The city loses about $375,000 a year funding the center which provides about 10,000 square feet of conference space and has a 288-seat auditorium with state-of-the art sound system. The city makes an annual $385,000 bond payment and it still has about $3 million outstanding on that bond.

In recent years, the conference center has steadily increased its revenues and during the past fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the center generated about $482,331 in rental fees.

In conversations with the Wilderman Group, Mayor Pat Patterson reported Thursday that the Wilderman Group has offered to take over the center with a five-year contract. The firm expects to have a $104,000 loss the first year and is asking the city to cover up to a $200,000 loss for that time.

“After that, they’re on their own,” Patterson said.

___

Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com