Following a 29.17% decline in revenue from 2010 to 2011, things are finally looking up for the Fort Smith Convention Center.
Through the first quarter of 2012, the Convention Center, under operation of the City of Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission, has posted a dramatic increase in activity.
Total number of events held are at 66 through March with total number of event days at 144, a 60% increase over the event days posted in the First Quarter 2011. Actual events have increased from 33 during the same period in 2011 (a 100% boost). Event revenues for March rose from $42,920.25 in 2011 to $65,613.45.
Thus far, the A&P Commission has reported total revenue of $176,083.17 for the year.
If the current pace holds, the Convention Center could gross around $704,332 in 2012, which would be its best performance this century, topping the current record of $681,007 in 2010.
The largest earning event for March was the River Valley Lawn and Garden Show, which brought in $15,887.50, around $100 less than it did last year.
However, there were more than enough groups hosting events to pick up the slack, including the Sebastian County Fire Association ($3,731 line item); Hannah House Presents Veggie Tales ($3,187); River City Safety ($2,323); and three events from UAFS (totaling $9,464).
In all, March events totaled 23 against just 13 during the same period last year, showing an overall revenue increase of $22,693.20.
According to February’s comparative receipts, the A&P Commission collected $62,252.11 compared to $50,528.19 in February 2011. Year-to-date, that number rises to $114,450.72 against $98,799.44 from last year.
The estimated amount of delinquent accounts for February are just $383.48 compared to $2,478.38 one year ago.
Claude Legris, Executive Director of Fort Smith A&P, credits Convention Center staff and an improving economy for the advancements.
“When you’ve got 1,200 people attending the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and everything goes picture perfect, word gets around that this is the place to be in Fort Smith. Plus, the economy’s a bit better, and we don’t have some of the disinformation that was out there (last year),” Legris said.
Legris and staff took over management of the Convention Center after a 1% prepared food tax that would have funded the location failed with voters in November 2011 and ignited debate over whether the Center should be supported by the city’s General Fund.