Revenue Up, Costs Down at Fort Smith Convention Center

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A year-end report shows significant improvement at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

It's the first year the center is being operated by the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau. The group took over after a 1-cent restaurant tax failed the previous year.

The center reported it made $624,439 in revenue in 2012, which is a $126,197 profit over last year.

"We did have a great year this year," General Manager Tim Seeburg said. "We ended up 2012 with the best results we've had as far as the bottom line goes in a number of years."

Leaders said over the past year, the convention center has hosted 256 events. Compare that with 214 events the year before.

Karin Hobbs, the sales director at the convention center, says that all of the concerts and conventions are part of the reason why they were able to bring in so much revenue in 2012.

"We've been very busy," Hobbs said. "We had a phenomenal year between conventions and different events. We had several large concerts like Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert."

"It's a combination of things from great sales and activities to cost control that we put in place and this team here knows how to do that very well," Seeburg added.

With more events in the books, taxpayers are expected to see more money spent in the area as a result, Seeburg said.

"We had an economic impact factor of about $15 million to the community with all of the events that we do," Seeburg explained. "That comes from the people that come to these events spending money on hotels, and restaurants and putting gas in their car. That kind of impact is huge. And that's the reason we exist."

The next big event for the Fort Smith Convention Center is the Arkansas River Valley Lawn and Garden Show. It kicks off Friday.

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