Vizi resigns as head of chamber

October 09, 2003|John A. Nelson

By John A. Nelson

Don Vizi's resigned Wednesday as executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce. The move came as little surprise to its board of directors.

It had been rumored that Vizi, the chamber's chief employee since August of 2000, would go to work for the owners of a new convention center here, a group of physicians with whom he had worked closely on the project.

Vizi confirmed that speculation at the chamber board meeting, stepping down to become president and chief executive officer of B.B.R.S., L.L.C., Danville Convention/Conference Center effective Nov. 15. He has agreed to continue some of his chamber duties until January or until a replacement is found.


"They agreed that I would stay on and run the chamber," Vizi said this morning. "I will help with the search and in putting a search committee together."

Vizi said the chamber will pay him for his services during that period of time, and his employers have agreed to the arrangement because of the help the chamber has provided and will provide in making the convention center a success.

Vizi said he will be able to help the chamber with its "very extensive calendar" over the next few months. The organization sponsors a Christmas party and parade in December, holds its annual banquet and induction of officers in January and hosts a trade show in February.

Drs. Madar Bux, Anjum Bux, Arthur Rivard and Thomas Serey formally announced their plans to renovate the former Lowe's building at the corner of the bypass and Perryville Road and turn a portion of it into a convention center.

The plan was proposed to the group by Nina Kirkland, chairwoman of the chamber board and a real estate broker. The need for such a facility was pronounced in March 2002 when Vizi completed a "viability study."

The doctors have said they will spend nearly $1 million to renovate the building and open it for business by Dec. 1. It will have 11,410 square feet of open floor space, a 27,000-square-foot cinema, a 3,950-square-foot restaurant and a 4,000-square-foot spa.

Vizi said this morning that the renovation is on schedule, even though the changes are not yet visible from the outside.

He said the center will soon hire two part-time employees to handle reservations, along with a full-time maintenance person. Another full-time planner will come on board "down the road."

"My responsibility right off the bat is for marketing, for getting trade shows and boat shows, those type of things," Vizi said.

Describing the progress made in the renovation, Vizi said metal stud walls are up and three-fourths of the plaster board. The sewer system and air conditioning is ready. False ceilings will be installed next week, then epoxy floors, carpeting and tile. The furniture has been ordered. Telephones and the sound system for the theater will be installed next week.

Vizi said the group is still negotiating with three companies interested in building cinemas in the center.

"I guess the first one to come with a viable proposal will get it," he said. "Two want to put in an 8-plex, one a 10-plex."

He said one of the companies says it could be operational by March, and one cinema company would also be interested in operating a restaurant. He said he thinks other restaurant prospects are waiting on the cinemas.

Also, the group was to approach the planning and zoning commission this morning to request approval of the use of 10,000 square feet of the facility for retail space. Vizi said the area in question had been the garden shop at Lowe's. He said the commission suggested that the request be made now even though that part of the project may be two or three years away.

Vizi, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who came to Danville with 11 years of chamber of commerce experience, said he leaves the chamber in good condition.

"Chamber membership is its highest ever at 488," he said. "We just completed an audit which we passed with flying colors. We have more people involved and more active committees than ever before. Financially, we are in excellent shape."

He said chamber revenue is currently $6,000 above projections at this time in its budget year.

Kirkland was unavailable this morning for a comment, as was chamber chairman-elect Stephen Rinehart.

Executive committee member Tom Duckworth was complimentary of Vizi. "We regret Don's leaving because he's done a fine job in the three years he's been with us," Duckworth said. "Under his leadership, membership has experienced significant growth."

Duckworth said a search committee will soon begin to look for a successor, with the help of the state and national chamber associations.|10/7/03***

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