Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nashville convention center coalition plans to hire PR firm

Tennessean DAVIDSON COUNTY The Music City Center Coalition, an advocacy group pushing for a new downtown convention center, plans to bring on Cooley Public Strategies, the firm founded by former deputy governor Dave Cooley, to handle public and government relations. Cooley, previously a partner with McNeely Pigott & Fox, the firm that resigned its Metro convention center contract after its bills to the city created a firestorm last month, has not been formally hired yet, said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and a coalition board member. The coalition will try to raise money so it can hire Cooley and possibly some other consultants to work on the group's behalf. "He's just part of the group discussions on communications," Schulz said. The coalition, which had been an early advocate for a new convention center, went dormant after Mayor Karl Dean made the project a priority and asked a Metro agency to spearhead development. Schulz said the coalition probably would have gotten back together anyway, but the McNeely Pigott & Fox controversy "definitely accelerated it." He said the group sees a gap in communicating the need for the convention center. "We'll be reconnecting the community with the economic development message," he said.

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