A major effort by the Pennsylvania Convention Center
Authority has convinced Governor Edward G. Rendell to
release the first $50 million in funding for a long-promised
expansion, but much work remains before groundbreaking can
Last summer, the state approved $632 million for a
250,000-square-foot expansion to the PCC, but by the new year,
funds had yet to appear. The reason: Rendell wasn’t sure management
could oversee the expansion with efficiency.
“We plan to become a first-class convention destination,” said
a spokesperson for the governor, “so it’s crucially important we
have a top-notch team managing the center.”
To that end, the PCCA hired Dittie Guise last fall as chief
operating officer. During her 11 years at the Greater Columbus
Convention Center, most recently as general manager, Guise helped
orchestrate two expansions.
Then in January, the PCCA tapped SMG, the Philadelphia-based
facilities management giant, to help oversee the expansion. This
will be a consulting contract as opposed to a management contract,
According to Michael Nutter, chairman of the PCCA board, “If we can
benefit from SMG’s national expertise, we should take full
advantage of that.”
Thanks to the PCCA’s efforts, Governor Rendell approved in late
January the first $50 million to begin site acquisition. The PCCA
also must create detailed blueprints, including a financial plan.
The bulk of the additional funds will be approved when gaming
revenue from recently legalized slot machines is collected,
beginning in 2006. December 2008 is the target for
As to the length of time it took for the funding to come
through, Nutter is forgiving. “Projects like these take a little
while to work through some of the mechanics,” he said.