Eighteen months ago the Oxford Conference Center faced a consideration for being cut from the city’s budgeting. The aftermath would have been the building being converted to different uses, as well as The Wilderman Group – a conference center organization based in Charleston, S.C.- having its request for proposal (RFP) accepted. This past May the Oxford aldermen heard from the committee it formed to analyze the Oxford Conference Center and concluded that the Center will be kept.
Hollis Green, director of Oxford Conference Center, said, “Months ago when the city wanted to cut us for budgeting there was hullabaloo. There were public outcries: ‘Yes we want to have it here.'”
Green said the center’s fiscal years have improved greatly since 2011, despite a small decrease of $21,590 to total of $365,635 in 2012. The total of sales (room rentals for events, meetings, etc.) in 2011 totaled $378,225. This year the total sales concluded at $1,002,272. The money increase is due to the Conference Center’s renovations from 2011 to 2012. By end of 2013 post-renovations there was a surge in sales, an increase by $116,696 dollars from 2012. Along with its revenue increase the Center was recognized by Convention South magazine that named it one of “The Elite 50 Conference Centers in the South.”
Hollis said to expect new features by 2015: an upgrade to flush mounted screens and projectors in Oxford Hall, an upgrade of WiFi capabilities and upgrading the catering kitchen amenities along with implementing new catering and alcohol policies. The Center’s website will be given a face lift also.
The Center is booked already in 2015 with six events: American Society of Engineers Spring Conference on March, American Association of Paralegal Educators Spring Conference on April, the 2015 S.T.O.R.M. Conference on May, Mississippi Public Transit Association Fall Semester and 2014 Fire Chief’s Training Conference for November and finally Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police on December.
The Center’s own development is not the only source of its success. Green noted two sources of the Center’s success: its staff and the Oxford Commons’ growth.
Green credited the $624,027 increase over past four years to his staff. “I work with great, upstanding people.” Green said, “They take such great care of our customers. With the level of care they have shown I think you can’t help but win.”
The Oxford Commons’ construction along the Sisk Avenue is noticeable as one drives down to the cul-de-sac by the new Oxford High School but the hotels present and soon to come are a boon. Green said, “The conference being held right now said they would have not considered us if it weren’t for the sidewalk access to the hotel. There’s no question two hotels across the street helped our ability to have larger multi-day conferences.”
The Center will continue to strive for another record-breaking profit at the end of its 2015 fiscal year. It faces a challenge next year when its largest customer – a multi-day international convention of 600-plus pharmacognosy professionals in August – won’t repeat next year but will return in 2016. However Green and his staff are hard-working and attentive to customers need more than ever.
Green said, “When we started out we had a small budget per event. Now we can provide food and amenities if it fits the group’s budget.”
Callie Daniels is the staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be contacted about this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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