After almost a decade of upheaval—rife with trade show exits, exhibitor anger and financial difficulties—the agency that owns McCormick Place
is close to completing an overhaul that officials hope will give the city a stronger hand when working to nab conventions.
The agency has done much in the last two years that it had set-out for, including getting signed labor pacts aimed at easing exhibitor costs and hassles, moving to private management, slashing prices on food and electrical service prices; reducing unmanageable debt loads by pushing payments further into the future and increasing borrowing power, opening the door to a long-awaited hotel expansion.
But for the effort to move forward, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority—the state-city agency that owns the convention center—and Navy Pier, must clear two more hurdles.
MPEA must become financially self-sufficient by mid-2014, when a four-year, $20 million-a-year state operating subsidy expires. It also is under intense pressure from city hall and the governor's mansion to reverse the decline in its business through much of the last decade and to become a more powerful catalyst for economic activity in the region. Read the full story here
Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune
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