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CCC board is given capital projects update

By JOHN PFEIFER jpfeifer@paducahsun.com

Steve Doolittle reported to the Paducah McCracken County Convention Center Board on Tuesday that the engineer's estimate to repair the exterior insulation and finish system (EFIS) came in well within expectations, and the repair work should not create a budget problem. 

“We don’t have any evidence of a structural problem,” Doolittle said, “it just looks bad. We don’t believe we are taking on any serious water.”

Doolittle, head of Paducah Riverfront Development Authority prior to his retirement five months ago, was contracted by the board in January to serve as project manager to oversee some $1.6 million in capital projects.

The board has already approved $200,000 in spending, half for an engineering contract with Marcum Engineering and the other half for furniture and equipment. A laminate dance floor, 100 tables, 400 chairs, and risers all will be put into service early this summer.

Doolittle said that the replacement of all lighting in the Schroeder Expo Center with LED bulbs, the EFIS repair and possible construction of executive offices should cost around $330,000, leaving more than $1 million for the design and construction of a commercial kitchen.

Convention Center Operations Director Chuck Tate has maintained that a commercial kitchen is necessary to attract larger conventions.

In other action, the board gave unanimous approval to an ongoing marketing plan that includes a digital marketing strategy costing $18,500 in the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The marketing proposal was presented by Ryan Green of Paducah’s Rygre Digital Marketing. It will include start-up costs of $4,100 to research keywords, correctly place the convention center on all search maps, consolidate the names by which the convention center is referred and optimize online content so that it appears higher in Google search algorithms.

Michelle Campbell, the convention center's marketing and sales director, said she was unaware when she started a year ago how substandard the convention center’s web presence was.

“Digital marketing is where the industry is headed,” Campbell said, The Rygre proposal also includes creation of a Google 360 virtual tour that will provide the opportunity for convention planners to "walk through” every corner of the convention center without the need to travel to Paducah.

Campbell said planners are increasingly using these virtual tours as a screening method for choosing future event sites.

“This is the right time,” Campbell said. “We’ve spent the last year making the center more presentable, getting artwork on the walls and making things look great.”

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