For the third year in a row, Biz New Orleans has included New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) President and CEO Michael J. Sawaya on its “New Orleans 500” list. The annual publication recognizes influential business leaders and other prominent professionals in the Greater New Orleans area and surrounding parishes whose work is driving the region’s economy and shaping its future.
Sawaya joined the Convention Center in early 2018 and has stewarded multiple transformative projects that have reshaped the facility, positioning the NOENMCC as a leader in the national event space and as a local hub for the New Orleans community.
Under his leadership, the Convention Center embarked on a $557 million Capital Improvement Plan to enhance the way the facility looks, feels and functions. The transformative project bolsters the NOENMCC’s competitive edge in the national market and ensures it meets and exceeds evolving industry and customer standards. Several notable transformations have been completed, including a 7.5-acre pedestrian park, renovations to 35 sets of restrooms and lighting upgrades throughout the exhibition halls. In addition to an ongoing $40 million energy-saving roof replacement project, improvements are currently underway on 140 of the Convention Center’s meeting rooms and public spaces.
Sawaya also guided the facility in achieving its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in 2022, a major milestone in the Convention Center’s proactive commitment to sustainability. This official certification from the U.S. Green Building Council makes the NOENMCC the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana, the largest convention center project in the U.S. certified under LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance and the first convention center in the world to be awarded an initial certification under LEED v4.1 O+M.
Sawaya has been instrumental in facilitating a partnership between the Convention Center’s governing board, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, and River District Neighborhood Investors, LLC (RDNI). The partners are working together to build a new mixed-use neighborhood adjacent to the Convention Center and have begun crucial infrastructure work for the development. Once complete, the new River District neighborhood will be a hub of commerce and a transformative asset for the New Orleans region and the state of Louisiana.
Additionally, the Convention Center, with Sawaya’s direction, works year-round to create opportunities to help Louisiana’s small and emerging businesses (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) succeed. With several massive projects planned and the growing demand for workers, suppliers and other resources, Sawaya has implemented policies to aggressively promote and prioritize the hiring of local vendors for the purchase of goods and services for the Convention Center.
“From the ongoing progress of the Capital Improvement Plan to reaching new heights with our sustainability goals and SEB/DBE program to our partnership with RDNI to bring a new neighborhood to our city, we are leading monumental and positive change for the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the City of New Orleans,” said Jerry Reyes, President of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “As we move forward into the future, Michael’s leadership will continue to take the Convention Center to new heights, and our city will reap the economic rewards and tourism benefits. We are thrilled that Biz New Orleans has recognized Michael on its ‘New Orleans 500’ list.”
For more information on the convention center, visit https://mccno.com