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DECC permanently lays off 400, projects $1.8 million deficit

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DULUTH, MN-- Back in April, the DECC temporarily furloughed 80% of its employees. Wednesday, DECC officials announced that close to 400 workers have now been permanently let go.

Fall at the DECC typically looks like conventions, symphonies and the long-awaited return of Bulldog Hockey.

According to Interim Executive Director Roger Reinert, October is usually the busiest month of the entire year at the DECC, but this October, rooms are dark and arenas sit empty as the pandemic has wiped out a majority of scheduled events.

"The DECC is a place that survives and thrives on people gathering and that is something we are not doing right now," said Reinert.

According to Reinert, the this lack of events has left the DECC in financial hardship without qualifying for pandemic-related relief money.

"We are projecting right now a 1.8 million dollar deficit through May of 2021," said Reinert.

The facilities alone cost $400,000 a month to maintain, and with little profit being made they had to make the difficult decision to cut their staff from 500 employees to just 52.

"I know for many it was a part-time job, for some it was full time and for some, it was their careers," said Reinert, "So that was not taken lightly."

The 400 employees, mainly in the food service, guest service and operations areas, got the news last week by mail.

All had been furloughed for the last 6 months waiting on events to return, but Reinert says that could still take months.

"It's unfair for people to think 'hey I've got this job I'm coming back to at the DECC' when the reality is that job has not been there for 6 months, and it's unlikely it is going to be there for many months to come," said Reinert.

Although the rest of 2020 is looking bleak for large scale events, Reinert says next year looks promising.

"As of now, 2021 is looking to be the busiest season the DECC has ever seen," said Reinert. "So we just need to win the little battles between now and next spring so that the DECC can start doing what the DECC is made to do."

DECC officials say that they are still hosting and booking events under 250 people and within state guidelines.

If you are interested in hosting through the DECC click here.

Natalie Grant

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