Detroit – As the city of Detroit struggles with a $96 MIL deficit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has targeted staff cutbacks at Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center as one way to mitigate the financial losses. Lou Pavledes, Director since 1996, was let go on April 20th. The Mayor’s proposed new budget would eliminate 23 of the 103 jobs at the exhibition center.
Glenn Banton, Cobo’s Deputy Director for the past six months, is running the facility while a nationwide search for a permanent director is underway.
The Mayor’s proposed staffing plan for Cobo, which must be approved by the City Council, would reduce the staff to 80 in 2004 compared to 103 last year. He would eliminate six in building services, ten in maintenance, six in security and one foreman.
The City Council will hold a budget hearing on May 6th to discuss Cobo’s finances. Like most exhibition centers in the U.S., Cobo loses money on operating costs — ranging from $14 MIL to $26 MIL annually – but generates significant revenue for the local economy through hotel taxes and other direct and indirect spending from show participants. Cobo’s two largest shows include the North American International Auto Show and SAE- the Society of Automotive Engineers International Congress. The auto show generated an estimated economic impact of $553 MIL in January 2004.
Currently, Cobo Center offers 700,000 square feet of exhibit space on one level and has plans to replace the existing facility with a new one nearby which will offer one million square feet of exhibit space.
Reach Lou Pavledes at (313) 610-6271; reach Glenn Banton at (313) 877-8777.