New Orleans – Jimmie D. Fore will step down April 1 as president/general manager of the Ernest Morial Convention Center of New Orleans and executive vice president of the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. Fore’s 16 years with the facility may be best remembered for the rapid reopening of the building after a $299 MIL renovation following Hurricane Katrina and his heroic efforts in staying in the building during the storm. His plans are to move to the Texas hill country where he has been raising quarter horses and exotic game animals.
Assistant General Manager Rick Compeaux was named interim president and general manager pending a nationwide search for a permanent replacement for the veteran Fore. Compeaux joined the convention center staff as accounting manager in 1986.
Fore’s career in the convention business spans 42 years and began in his native Texas where he was director of both sales and public relations for the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau. He became executive vice president of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1971.
Fore left New Orleans for the first time in 1973 and spent 15 years as executive vice president of the Astrodome-Astrohall Stadium Corporation in Houston. He became general manager of McCormick Place in Chicago before returning to the Big Easy in 1991 to run the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
“Jimmie has been a true friend, not only to the trade show industry and to show managers and show promoters through a career that has brought him from Houston to New Orleans to Chicago and back to New Orleans,” said Robert Kolinek, president of Helen Brett Enterprises, which holds gift and jewelry shows at the center.
In September 2005, the convention center served as an evacuation shelter and military command post immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Fore rode out the storm with a handful of essential workers. He then watched as the battered center became a refuge for thousands of city residents despite the fact there were no supplies, running water or electricity and that the center had never been designated as a shelter.
The stricken convention center had windows blown out but did not suffer any major structural damage in the hurricane. Fore and his team were able to open the building to smaller events in February 2006, six months after the storm. The entire facility, which was seen as a key to getting the New Orleans economy back on track, was reopened by last November.
“Thanks to his management, the convention center completed an ambitious reopening to welcome the return of major convention business to New Orleans after Katrina,” said Warren Reuther, president of the Exhibition Hall Authority Board of Commissioners. “He has also assembled one of the most renowned and experienced venue teams, which will ensure a smooth transition moving forward.”