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Austin Convention Center employees will help fill city vacancies during expansion

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 300 employees who work at the Austin Convention Center will keep their jobs during the four-year expansion project, with some employees being shifted to fill vacancies in other city departments, the center’s director told council members this week.

Trisha Tatro, the director of the Austin Convention Center, said a core team will remain under her department to operate the Palmer event center, the Marshalling Yard, and three parking garages. The remaining employees will be reallocated to other city departments.

“We will work with those department directors,” Tatro said during a work session on Tuesday. “We will allocate which employees have which skill sets.”

Filling city job vacancies

The city of Austin is still trying to fill multiple job vacancies. The Human Resources department tells KXAN the vacancy rate is 12.9% with 2,016 openings out of the 15,669 full-time positions. In October 2022, the vacancy rate was at 17.6%. The city ran a six-month campaign to fill those vacancies starting in February, and were able to lower the vacancy rate to 15.9% in April.

Jesús Garza, the interim city manager, said a lot of city departments could benefit from the convention center employees.

“That’s the intent, to make sure no one loses their job and then they’re back at the convention center once you cut the ribbon and we’re ready to roll,” Garza explained.

The current convention center is expected to be demolished after South by Southwest in 2025, and then reopened on the same footprint in 2029.

What’s next for the convention center expansion?

City council will vote on two contracts Thursday associated with the expansion project that are worth about $1.3 billion.

One contract is with two firms who will work on the design and engineering of the new convention center. That is worth $65 million. The other $1.2 billion is in a contract dealing with the construction of the project.

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