NEW ORLEANS - District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer and District "B" Councilmember Jay H. Banks will introduce a resolution at the next regular meeting on Thursday, May 7, 2020, supporting the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority's decision to pause development of its proposed hotel, entertainment district and capital improvement plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution urges the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority, which serves as the governing board of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, to consider utilizing its surplus taxpayer reserve fund to support the City's hospitality and tourism industry.
Before agreeing not to move forward with development, the authority had approved proposed plans totaling $1.2 billion and identified a development team for a $675 million hotel.
"We are in the midst of unprecedented circumstances that could have a lasting impact on our city and state, local workforce and economy. Under these extreme uncertainties, now is not the time to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on costly developments. I am relieved to see that the Authority agreed to press pause on the Convention Center's proposed plans, but they should not stop there. I urge them to invest more funds in providing financial assistance to our hospitality and tourism workers whose income has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and participate in a larger strategic planning process that defines their roles in an overall sustainable tourism plan that allows all residents to benefit from our tourism economy equitably," said Councilmember Palmer
The resolution also urges the authority to:
Continue to retain its 500 employees at full salary and benefits who cannot work due to the continued State and City Stay At Home orders;
Invest its substantial, taxpayer generated reserve funds to continue to pay its employees (full-time, contract and temporary) through the health crisis;
Participate in citywide efforts to create a sustainable tourism plan for New Orleans, so that workers, their families, and the greater community stand to benefit equitably from the city's hospitality and tourism economy; and
Request that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards appoint to the Authority at least one commissioner who represents the Convention Center workforce, to ensure that workers' concerns are central to the Authority's decision making;
Thursday's regular meeting will be held virtually due to the City's ongoing Stay At Home mandate. The meeting may be accessed using the following methods:
- Watch the live stream of the meeting here
- Live Television Broadcast on Cox Cable Channel 6 in Orleans Parish
For additional information, or to view the full meeting agenda, visit council.nola.gov.