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MCCNO Authority Approves Local Donations; Keeps Staff Paid and Working Through Pandemic

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, the governing board of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, has unanimously voted to support expenditures to area non-profit organizations to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on local hospitality industry employees.

At its April 22 meeting, the Authority approved $1 million in donations to local relief organizations. Through Board action, $500,000 has been allocated to the United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund. The fund will provide crisis grants to hospitality workers who are unable to afford basic financial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. An additional $500,000 was approved for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund.

“These donations represent the Authority’s strong commitment to improving the lives and promoting the financial security of so many in the Greater New Orleans area who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, and who are struggling to make ends meet in these very challenging and uncertain times,” says Walt Leger III, chairman of the Exhibition Hall Authority. “We are proud to join those companies who have already stepped up and encourage other major employers to make their own generous contributions, as our city and state work through this health and economic crisis.”

The MCCNO is poised to play a key role in stimulating the local economy by filling hotel rooms and restaurants when large conventions return, and has made unprecedented moves to keep its staff employed and ready to work as soon as stay-at-home directives are lifted. In line with a special opinion provided by the Attorney General’s office, the convention center was permitted to continue to compensate its full time and part time employees since March 23 when operations were temporarily suspended to adhere to the stay-at-home order. Since then, the center has been converted to a Medical Monitoring Station (MMS) to support the State’s response to the pandemic. Many of the center’s staff are working from home, and a crew of 35 employees considered essential to support the MMS are working at the facility. The labor cost through April 19 amounts to $2,352,630.94.

“The decision to continue to compensate convention center employees, even as our traditional operations have been temporarily suspended, is the right thing to do for our staff whom we consider to be internal customers” says Michael J. Sawaya, president and general manager of the MCCNO. “Our role in the economic recovery will require a dedicated and talented staff to ensure we continue to operate as one of the very best convention centers in the world.”

With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, in an entirely contiguous hall, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. The MCCNO features an award-winning staff and first-class amenities, and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation.  A consistent Top 10 host of the largest conventions and tradeshows in the nation annually, the convention center is also one of the city’s “Top Workplaces.” A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, the convention center’s event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments. For more info, visit www.mccno.com

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s exclusive mission is to finance, construct and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, ten appointed by the Governor of Louisiana, and three appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans. Since 1985, event activity at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.

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