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Wed Apr 24, 2019, 03:00 AM

Union urges denial of Convention Center hotel, citing company's prior ownership of private prisons

NEW ORLEANS -- The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's board faced another headache over its controversial hotel project, as a local union urged it to reject the hotel because of the past involvement of the prospective project leader in privatized federal prisons.

Gabby Bolden-Shaw, vice president of the Unite Here Local 23 that represents about 1,700 hospitality workers in New Orleans, and other union members delivered a letter to the board Tuesday urging it to reject the current proposal for a 1,200-room Omni Hotel on the Convention Center's undeveloped acres south of the main hall.

The proposal currently under consideration is led by Baton Rouge-based nonprofit Provident Resources Group, which through a complicated legal structure would own the $558 million development and fund it by issuing tax-exempt bonds.

PRG, which was founded in 1999 by Baton Rouge lawyer Steve Hicks, owned 10 privatized federal prisons from 2001 through 2012, which were operated by the company now known as GEO Group, the country's largest operator of private prisons.

Read more: https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/business/article_82fb5068-6604-11e9-be65-db07ed751241.html

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