The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) in Atlanta will now run the Savannah (Ga.) International Trade & Convention Center.
The quasi-public authority that runs the Savannah venue, about 250 miles from Atlanta, approved the agreement that calls for an end to its contract with SMG, which has run the convention center ever since it opened in 2000. At the same time, the Savannah convention center authority passed another measure to authorize Georgia World Congress Center to negotiate with SMG to continue to manage the venue’s food and beverage service via its SAVOR subsidiary.
The decision by the Savannah convention center authority is unusual in that it is rare for a publicly owned venue in one city to manage an unrelated venue in another city. Second, it flies in the face of recent developments in other cities where economic realities are compelling government officials to seek out private-sector managers—like SMG—to run their publicly owned facilities.
The handover of management responsibilities is scheduled for April 1.
In explaining the decision earlier this month, Savannah Trade Center Board Chairman Mark Smith said in a statement, “We see the opportunity to build additional convention business synergies between Savannah and Atlanta.”
“GWCC has the ability to take a high-performing asset to the next level and compete on a global scale,” Smith added.
The Savannah venue has 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a 5,000 sq. ft. ballroom and a 367-seat auditorium. By comparison the GWCC runs the 3.9-million sq. ft. convention center, 71,000-seat Georgia Dome and 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park.