TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — As plans for the Terre Haute convention center move forward, the first major hire is expected after the first of the year.

The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board voted Wednesday to issue a Request for Proposal seeking a qualified facility operator for the new downtown Terre Haute convention center.

This operator would be responsible for the overall management of the convention center.

The RFP is expected to release within the next week. The selection process will begin in early January to be scheduled with prospective management companies.

An operator selection committee will hold interviews in late January and review finalists. The committee will then make a recommendation for board approval, and a contract will be negotiated.

The operator selection committee includes Brad Anderson, Mayor Duke Bennett and Nations Group, the CIB’s owner’s representative.

Once a contract for operator is negotiated, their work will begin immediately.

The operating company will begin booking events for the anticipated third quarter 2021 completion and networking to build opportunities for the convention center including marketing, sponsorships, etc. Additionally, the operator will help determine post-construction needs including marketing and promotion, planning, assembling, furnishings, kitchen build-out, equipment, etc.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the board learned that the local food and beverage tax has generated $2.3 million since being implemented in fall 2018. Additionally, the County, City and CIB have provided $1.3 million in revenue for operating costs for the convention center project. Bond sales have also closed, allowing the cap to be removed for Garmong Construction Services.

Garmong is currently completing the pre-construction activities including subcontractor coordination and materials procurement processes and will be receiving notices for formal construction groundbreaking.