VALDOSTA -- A new software program could help alleviate some of the organizational and communications problems facing the Conference Center, members of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority learned at their Tuesday meeting.

The modular program from Ungerboeck Systems is designed to improve billing, lead tracking and other account management necessities for conference centers and convention bureaus.

"This could cure a lot of the ills we see now as far as billing and the transfer of interdepartmental information," Conference Center Executive Director Marty Brown told the Board.

Technology subcommittee chairman Michael Jetter noted that the event business management program received good references and is used by several other conference centers in the state.

"It really does offer a lot of solutions for a center like this," he said.

Representatives from Ungerbock gave a demonstration of the program on Monday, and Jetter as well as conference center staffers came away impressed. The program comes with a hefty $30,000 initial price tag, but includes 10 separate modules, eight users and two upgrades per year as well as technical support. The annual cost for maintaining the program is expected to be about $3,500.

In other technology news, the Authority elected to invite the South Georgia Regional Development Center and Davis Nichols and Associates to evaluate and price computer hardware upgrades for the center, which has struggled with server reliability as well as network and Internet difficulties.

Board members want to establish options for current and future expansion of the system -- particularly with a substantial software investment looming.

The Board also received a budget report for February which showed the conference center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau slightly behind revenue projections for the year-to-date, but well under budgeted expenses. The result was a net income of $10,749 for the month of February and $49,178 for the year.

The Board also unanimously approved a new set of bylaws for the Authority and heard Board Attorney Bill Moore's recommendation for the reorganization of the Sports Commission -- functionally another subcommittee of the authority.

Moore recommended the Commission be given a loose set of operating rules to provide some autonomy with the understanding that "everything the Sports Commission does must be either specifically approved by the Authority or done pursuant to a practice which is authorized and recognized by the Authority."

Finally, the Board ended with an executive session requested by Board member Willie Head to discuss personnel matters.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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