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MCCNO Awards $7 Million Design Contract

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (“Authority”) has awarded a $7 million contract to a certified Small Emerging Business (SEB) enterprise, NANO Architecture, to design the Convention Center’s meeting rooms and public spaces.

Michael Sawaya“We embarked on a $557 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in 2018 that includes facility upgrades, as well as modernizing the internal meeting spaces,” says Convention Center President Michael J. Sawaya (pictured left). “The Capital Improvement Plan has already delivered a 7.5-acre pedestrian park, and other major improvements are underway to modernize the interior of the Convention Center. This is a great next step toward the goal of a completely transformed meeting and event facility.”

The Convention Center emphasizes supporting local businesses, particularly small and emerging businesses (SEBs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). NANO Architecture participated in the Convention Center’s Small and Emerging Business program, receiving mentorship by partnering with Populous, Inc., which ultimately prepared the company to win a contract on their own.

Jerry Reyes“The selection of NANO Architecture marks the largest contract we have ever awarded to an SEB,” says Exhibition Hall Authority President Jerry Reyes (pictured right). “The Authority has been a champion of more active involvement of SEBs as a guiding principle for how business is done at the Convention Center. This contract actively aligns with that vision and is key to continuing the progress that has been seen in recent years.”

The awarding of a contract of this size is a key milestone for the Convention Center team as they continue to work to support small and emerging businesses.

Terri Hogan Dreyer“We are honored to be selected by the Convention Center to work on this transformative project for the region,” says Terri Hogan Dreyer (pictured left), managing partner of NANO Architecture. “Since our founding 20 years ago, we sought to bring the design standard of internationally renowned architectural firms back home to New Orleans in the form of a boutique, small business with a commitment to world-class design excellence. As a woman-owned business and certified state-local disadvantaged business enterprise (“DBE”), this project provides the opportunity for us to continue growing our company, and more importantly, showcase the talent of our team of professionals. We look forward to helping the Convention Center usher in a new era, continuing the legacy of being an anchor for our hospitality economy.”

Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority Maintains AA+ Bond Rating

Solid financial strength allowed the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (“the Authority”) to maintain its AA+ bond rating from Fitch Ratings on the following special tax bonds:

–$26.4 million special tax refunding bonds, series 2012;

–$33.6 million special tax refunding bonds, series 2014.

Fitch reported that “Affirmation of the ‘AA+’ reflects a solid resilience cushion when applying both sharply lower 2020 pledged revenues and Fitch’s tourism sector revenue stress, expected strong post-pandemic pledged revenue growth, and sizeable reserves available to support debt service payments in the event of further pledged revenue declines.”

According to Fitch, the Rating Outlook is Negative, reflecting  continued uncertainty regarding the timing and strength of the rebound of the tourism industry in New Orleans and the corresponding recovery in pledged tourism-related taxes. A 2027 final maturity of outstanding bonds will allow the authority to continue with its capital plan once normal business conditions resume without materially affecting the resilience cushion.”

The Fitch Group is a global leader in financial information services including credit ratings that provide valuable insights for investors in long-term debt.  Fitch’s AA+ bond rating is one of the highest that can be achieved.

“We are pleased and encouraged that Fitch has chosen to maintain a rating of AA+ for our outstanding bonds, and to hold its opinion of our credit rating. Our July 15 debt payment has been reserved and is held by a trustee; therefore, it will be paid per schedule from taxes collected.  It is important to note that the Authority is in compliance with all of its bond covenants, and given these very uncertain times, this rating is a tribute to how well the Authority has managed its funds,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Executive Vice President of the Authority and Convention Center President.

“Regarding the ‘negative outlook’ rating, we remain hopeful about the state of the local tourism economy and will continue to monitor the trending effects on our tax collections,” Sawaya concluded.

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s (Authority) 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 the New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, 10 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, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments. 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, tradeshows and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and the New Orleans Region.

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, features an award-winning staff, first class amenities and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation. 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 exhallnola.com.

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