by Michael C. Lowe | April 27, 2011

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which oversees Chicago's McCormick Place convention complex, yesterday chose private convention venue management firm SMG to run the facility beginning July 1. The change is part of the reforms enacted by the Illinois General Assembly last year in an effort to reduce operational costs, improve customer experience, and allow the facility to be more competitive in the convention and trade show industries. More than two dozen trade shows have either recommitted to host their shows in Chicago or have committed to bring their business to Chicago for the first time due to the reforms, according to the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. Those commitments represent more than $2.7 billion in estimated direct expenditures over the next decade. However, other parts of the labor reforms were overturned on March 31 by U.S. District Court judge Ronald Guzman, citing a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. At issue are rules that give exhibitors expanded rights to work on their booths and that extend union workers' straight-time hours.