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PHILADELPHIA-More than a year ago, the PA State legislature refused to voteon a bill that would foot half of the bill for a 300,000-sf expansion of thePennsylvania Convention Center in Center City. The chief reason was theConvention Center Authority’s failure to renegotiate a contract with the sixunions that provide services to exhibitors.

According to an independent study by locally based Econsult, labor costs atthe Center were approximately 30% higher than the industry average. Despitepressure from the city and state, the carpenters’ union refused to agree tonew work rules.

This week, the impasse was broken when all of the unions finally agreed to aplan under which their members will be hired by locally based Elliott-LewisCorp., a provider of facility management and maintenance services.Elliott-Lewis will work under contract to the Center.

A year ago, the cost of expansion was estimated at $464 million, a figurethat has since swelled to $500 million. Meanwhile, both the city and thestate are tightening their belts.

Therefore, a revenue producer -a Downtown slot machine parlor -is tied tothe pending legislation. It is part of a larger gaming bill being introduced bythe state legislature and is expected to not only pay the total tab for theConvention Center expansion, but also pay the Center’s expenses on anongoing basis.

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