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Paducah-McCracken convention center finances looking up

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

The purchasing of tables and chairs may not be a big deal in some circles, but to the Convention Center Corporation leaders, it's a sign of something they have been striving for: growth and recovery.

Two years after an embezzlement scandal rocked the board, which oversees operations of the Paducah-McCracken County Convention and Expo Centers, the panel made its first purchase that wasn't emergency or repair related, voting on a $52,000 order for new tables and chairs, along with moving carts and new risers. They're a cosmetic fix, something the CCC has not had the chance to do in the past two years.

"Recovering took awhile, it was a big chunk of money," board chairman Phil McIntosh said. "We've been doing a good job. The (Luther F.) Carson Center has been doing a good job. We have some money now."

That cash totals $332,373 as of Sept. 30, about $260,000 more than what the board had in 2012. Board members tossed around the idea of investments at Tuesday's meeting, but it was unanimously agreed that at least part of that money would go toward the new chairs and tables.

"This is the first big purchase we've done, besides necessary repairs,"  McIntosh said. "Two years ago, they remodeled all of this. They gave us a new roof, new HVAC units on the roof, gave us almost a new building. We haven't had to do much as far as repairs go."

The Convention Center's year is just heating up. On the table are negotiations with Senate Hospitality, which will take over operations when a new hotel heads to the riverfront in summer 2015. Until then, McIntosh said, the Carson Center will most likely keep the operations contract. Negotiations with Senate have yet to start.

With the new hotel also comes repairs and renovations to the city-owned portion of the convention and expo centers, namely the former ballroom and kitchen area of the building. McIntosh said the board is working with the Convention & Visitor's Bureau, along with the Carson Center, to revamp marketing to keep the growth steady.

"Bringing in a big show or convention requires us to market and get it in line anywhere from three to five years out," McIntosh said. "So we are putting ourselves out there. The Carson Center is helping that, and Senate will be in charge of that in the future."

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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