JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In our exclusive One on One with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba he discusses the license for the company chosen to manage the zoo and the Jackson Convention Center.
The mayor tells us plans are in the works to get the facility out of the red.
The Jackson City Council has agreed to provide $63,000 a month to the managing company for the Jackson Convention Center. Mayor Lumumba says this is not a new problem.
Mayor Lumumba said, “they start projecting a shortfall as far back as 2012 and they’ve talked from administration to administration as we’ve gone through these shortfalls. It is not uncommon for convention centers to operate at a deficit or not be profitable. In fact most convention centers are not quote unquote profitable.”
Mayor Lumumba says moving forward he expects a proposal from SMG and other companies that have expressed interest in the facility.
Mayor Lumumba said, “we have to do an new RFP that’s what the city is doing. We made it clear to SMG that we felt it was important for us to get a fresh look, a fresh start and see what is working and what is not working and find out who will be the management company going forward.”
Mayor Lumumba also says having a hotel would help but not at the expense of other downtown businesses.
"We know that when we introduce new hotels into the downtown market other hotels suffered, and so we have to look at the overall occupancy rate of hotels downtown”, said the Mayor.
He also hopes attractions like shopping, and the Farish Street District will bring in business. The Mayor said the city has cleared some hurdles in moving forward with Farish Street development.
"First we owed a great sum of money to HUD so that's no longer a hurdle. We still do have a legal challenge that I am very, very optimistic that we are going to be able to get past. The city hired both an attorney and a developer”, Mayor Lumumba said.
On ZoOceanarium the company chosen to manage the Jackson Zoo and the controversy regarding it’s license, the mayor says..
“ZoOceanarium operates zoos all across the world. And so if they can take care of an animal in Dubai then I believe that they can take care of an animal in Jackson, Mississippi.”
There will also be renovations.
"There may come a time that we have to close it for the safety of people in order to make those renovations”, said Mayor Lumumba.
Mayor Lumumba also says events like Zoo Brew and Ice Cream Safari bring out big crowds. He says it is important to market the zoo to keep supporters coming in.