- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Vicksburg Convention Center’s new executive director has a new mission statement and slogan, both promoting an aggressive plan to bring business to the center.

The Vicksburg Post reported (http://bit.ly/1ekz0iJ ) the center will be marketed under the slogan “going beyond your expectations.”

New executive director Annette Kirklin talked about plans for the center at a meeting of the convention center’s advisory board earlier this week.

Kirklin was named executive director in November 2013, leaving a similar position she held with the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation.

She replaced Troy Thorn, who took a position with Iowa-based VenuWorks, which has a contract with the city of Vicksburg to manage and operate the convention center.

Kirklin started work on Dec. 2.

Sales and marketing manager Julie Ford outlined a marketing program focusing on face-to-face meetings with clients and outside sales calls emphasizing building relationships with potential clients.

She said the convention center staff also will be working on loyalty benefit programs for current clients to encourage repeat business.

Kirklin said staff is working to simplify the process of booking the center, organizing an event, paying for it and seeing the event through completion.

She said cost-cutting efforts are underway to help the convention center operate entirely on revenue from a 2 percent hotel tax.

Revenue from the tax forms the majority of the convention center’s operating revenue. The city in the past has subsidized the center’s operations with about $400,000 a year.

Under a new contract with VenuWorks, the city will pay a $10,000 bonus if the convention center operates during the year without the supplement, in addition to other performance-based incentives.

Kirlkin said center ended the first quarter of its current fiscal year in the black, “which is an extremely positive way to start the new fiscal year.”

Business manager Donna Gray said the center finished the quarter with a surplus of $1,247.

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com

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