The BancorpSouth Arena this week took over operations of the BancorpSouth Conference Center (previous coverage). After playing phone tag all week with Shari Long Neely, we finally talked yesterday. Neely oversaw the operations of the conference center since it opened.
What we learned (accurate as of yesterday):
file photo of Joshua Simpson preparing food at the Hilton Garden Inn (photo by Djournal’s Thomas Wells)
• Neely remains director of sales for HGI/Master Hospitality. However, she no longer has the additional responsibility of the conference center.
• April marks 7 years for Neely’s employment with Master Hospitality.
• Neely and her staff are helping the arena during the transition this month.
• She said it’s hard to tell how many people worked directly for conference center. About 90 people on the payroll for Master Hospitality. Many employees work in both the conference center and the Hilton.
• Joshua Simpson was still working at the hotel as of Thursday, but he’s no longer exec chef at HGI. She suspects he’ll focus on his own business, Southern Twists.
“It’s a fluid situation as we all are learning how to make this work,” Neely said.
We talked with Joshua Simpson this afternoon. His thoughts:
Simpson on Friday said the position was eliminated with the new operations agreement.
He said he’s staying on during the transition period and then he plans to focus on his catering business, Southern Twists.
“It’s a great thing for me and my company to be able to dedicate my full attention to Southern Twists,” he said.
Todd Hunt, director of the arena, said he plans to put out a call for bids to run catering at the conference center. If that happens, Simpson said he’s interested.
“I’ll be the first in line,” he said.
He also said some of the Master Hospitality employees are going with him to work for Southern Twists.
To contact Simpson about catering, he said to find him on Facebook (Southern Twists), to call him (419-0765) or to email him (firstname.lastname@example.org).