February 202426

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Renovation Builds Unprecedented $50 Million Boost for Small, Emerging Businesses

Estimated 30% of Construction Contracts Will Go to SEB/DBE Vendors

NEW ORLEANS – Construction at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) is expected to generate over $50 million in new small and emerging business (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) contracts through 2026. The contracts are for renovation project work, which is included in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The windfall of new opportunities for SEB/DBE vendors is the result of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority Board (The Authority) approving the largest guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for construction in recent history. In January, the Authority authorized the milestone $113.5 million GMP for Phases I and II. SEB and DBE contracts will capture 30% of this newly approved GMP. This contract coupled with contracts previously executed for renovation project work total $136 million of construction improvements.

“We are spending half-a-billion dollars to bring the Convention Center up to date so it can continue to be a significant driver for the local and state economy. With such a large-scale project comes a lot of responsibility, including directing as much of this $557 million investment as possible to local and small businesses,” said Jerry Reyes, President of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “By working together, we are improving the Convention Center and lifting businesses of all sizes across Greater New Orleans.”

SEB/DBE businesses have a net worth of less than $1.5 million and are often minority, veteran and/or women owned. Contracts secured by SEB vendors have increased with each phase of Convention Center construction. The Authority estimates that the current renovation project work will include $50 million in SEB/DBE contract opportunities, which would exceed industry standards and initial project expectations.

“The AECOM Hunt/Broadmoor team is incredibly proud to have helped make the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s transformation a reality. Our work is done by the best of the best, and often by skilled workers and businesses just getting their start,” said Charles D. Prewitt, Vice President – Field Operations, AECOM Hunt. “By already exceeding our small and emerging business inclusion goals, we’re proud to create opportunity and help lay the foundation for our industry’s future leaders and trailblazers.”

The NOENMCC launched the CIP in 2018. Since then, significant progress has been made to deliver the updated experience modern meeting planners demand. Completed renovations include:

  • $20.6 million in sustainability projects, improved stormwater drainage, LED exhibit hall lighting, water bottle filling stations and upgraded restrooms
  • Internal infrastructure improvements and physical plant renovations including four new chillers, two new cooling towers, six boilers and a new systems monitoring station
  • $65 million, 7.5-acre pedestrian park and transportation center with centralized access for buses, shuttles, taxis, and ride shares
  • Public safety improvements including enhanced security technology
  • New Orleans neighborhood-themed charging stations, immersive art installations and modernized public spaces.

The Convention Center’s $48 million roof replacement, which is part of the CIP, is nearing completion. The new 40-acre “cool roof” is designed to better reflect heat and the added insulation will contribute to increased energy savings. As CIP construction continues, all meeting rooms, lobbies and pre-function space will be renovated, including new furniture, paint, carpet and ceilings. New LED lighting and technology replacements are continuing, along with new mechanical systems and HVAC installations. These and other improvements led to the Convention Center’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

“The Capital Improvement Plan will take our 1980’s-designed venue and transform it into a modern, more competitive events and meetings powerhouse. A large part of our transformative project is to honor our commitment of making sure this project is sustainably sourced and equitably built,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President and CEO. “By committing a significant portion of this work to SEB/DBE vendors, we are investing in a future where all are valued and welcomed.”

To maximize exposure of all SEB/DBE opportunities, the NOENMCC created the SEBconnect app as a mobile resource for SEB owners to secure contracts in real-time. In January, the Port of New Orleans and the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad joined SEBconnect, partnering with NOENMCC to further amplify the connection to SEB and DBE vendors. For more information on the Convention Center’s SEB program, visit mccno.com.


About the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority

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 New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, ten 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 since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.


About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC)

New Orleans is Built to Host! With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space on one level, all under one roof, NOENMCC is the sixth largest Convention Center in the United States and provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. NOENMCC is a 2023 IAVM Venue Excellence recipient and is consistently named a regional top workplace by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. Our recent LEED Gold certification makes NOENMCC the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana and the largest convention center project in the U.S. certified under LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance, as well as the first convention center in the world to be awarded initial certification under LEED Gold v4.1 O+M. A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, NOENMCC event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening.