Convention Center scores a first with zero indebtedness from past events

The Pine Bluff Convention Center’s Finance Committee, meeting Tuesday, discovered that for the first time in recent memory and perhaps since its inception, the facility has no debts from events held there.

Committee member and Alderman Bill Brumett called the announcement a “major accomplishment.” Pine Bluff Convention Center Director Bob Purvis credited the achievement to Sherie Storie, the agency’s sales director.

“She’s been with us seven years and has worked hard toward bringing this to past,” said Purvis. “Her job requires a lot of detail work in dealing with our customers and potential customers. She made this possible.”

Purvis, now in his 14th year at the convention center’s helm, said the zero debt followed a lengthy process that began about 7.5 years ago, when facility administrators decided to “stop incurring expenses until we paid our bills.”

Unless an entity has an established credit line with the convention center, half of the projected expense of a proposed event’s usage of the facility must be deposited up front and the remaining cost must be satisfied prior to the happening.

“The aged accounts receivable debt at some points ranged between $50,000 and $100,000 in the past,” said Purvis, “and for a number of years we annually lost up to $5,000 in revenues. So, it’s easy to see that this is great news.”

The convention center’s roots date to 1967, when the facility was first conceived. The city received a $2.3-million construction start-up grant in 1971 from the federal Economic Development Agency. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on May 2, 1974, and construction was finalized and an official opening and dedication was conducted on June 27, 1976.

The total time from conception through its construction was eight years and eight months. The final construction cost was $8,524,727.