SMG in the News: Cobo Surplus Sets Worthy Example

Originally published in Crain’s Detroit

As Detroit reorganizes the way it conducts business, it has one textbook success as a model.

With regional leadership and professional management, Cobo Center reported last week that it has a surplus for the first half of its fiscal year of $744,000.

It may still post a loss for the full year because of contingencies set aside for its massive, $279 million expansion/renovation project. The renovations are expected to be completed in time for the North American International Auto Show in January 2015.

Cobo was transferred to a regional authority in 2009. Regional hotel and liquor taxes are funding the renovation and expansion of exhibit space. The regional authority hired SMG, an international conference venue management firm, to run the center.

Since Cobo was the tip of Detroit’s political corruption iceberg, leading to the unraveling of the criminal enterprise under convicted ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the center’s improved fortunes make a convincing case that professional management pays off in the short — and long — term.