The Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center board has directed a subcommittee to come up with a marketing and staffing plan for the project.

The decision during Friday’s meeting came at the request of the project’s two managing partners — the city of Hermiston and Umatilla County — after the city council and county commission met for a joint work session on EOTEC Monday.

Board member Dan Dorran said he agreed that the time was right to build on the discussions about operations that took place during a November work session, and requested that the marketing subcommittee come back to the full EOTEC board for a “full-throated discussion” before sending it on to the city and county.

Byron Smith, board chair and Hermiston city manager, noted that the board has been “hesitant to spend more than we have and trying not to be a burden on the city and county” but said it sounded like the two entities were willing to consider kicking more than their $45,000 per year each if that’s what’s needed to help fill the center with events.

He said it was important to start on a plan with no specific people in mind for the positions.

“Just ‘these kind of positions doing these things,’” he said.

The event center has had 43 events so far since it opened last May. During a budget discussion Friday, city finance director Amy Palmer broke down revenue and costs by event so the board could see how the fee structure was working out. She reported that so far in the 2016-2017 fiscal year EOTEC’s operations costs had been about $100,000 for a net loss of $4,645.

Dorran reported to the board that the sign committee had been working with the Oregon Department of Transportation on directional road signs pointing the way to EOTEC, and those should be ready in a couple of weeks. He also shared the brick and stucco designs for a large, decorative entryway sign. The fundraising committee is also working to design the donor wall that will thank major contributors to EOTEC, and the board asked that there be some continuity of color and materials between the two signs.

Carl Hendon of Hendon Construction reported that the cold, snowy weather had pushed the expected completion date for the rodeo arena from June 1 to June 15.

John Eckhardt of Knerr Construction reported that the bid for concrete for the barns had been awarded and other subcontractor bids are not far behind. He said prolonged freezing and snowy weather — which his company is considering a once-every-75-years event — has caused some “real issues” staying on schedule.

“We’re a little nervous, but we’re going to get through that and find some solutions,” he said.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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