By Steve Tawa

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Convention Center Board has voted to hire a private company – the West Conshohocken-based SMG – to manage and operate the Convention Center. It’s part of an effort to reverse declining bookings of major conventions and trade shows.

Convention Center Board Chairman Gregory Fox says the 15-member board chose SMG over Global Spectrum, a division of the Philadelphia-based Comcast, because of SMG’s work in other cities, including convention centers in Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco:

“We are engaging a firm that has tremendous experience and expertise, a very deep bench, and experience throughout the country, including facilities with labor unions.”

The board took two votes, 12-3 to bring in private management and then 13-2 on which firm to hire.

Board member Heather Steinmiller isn’t so sure hiring a private firm will make things better:

“I don’t believe this action addresses our number one issue: our inability to meet our customers expectations in delivering high quality, low cost show labor.”

Fox says it’s one of several initiatives to modernize operations, reduce costs, and enhance the Center’s ability to compete with other major facilities in the increasingly competitive trade show and convention industry.

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