New Interim Leader at GO Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- Go Cedar Rapids has a new interim leader. And the first job is determining how the convention and tourism office in Cedar Rapids survives the financial losses from the recent newbo evolve festival.

Jim Haddad was named interim CEO of Go Cedar Rapids on Monday.

Jim Haddad has run a consulting service recently. But the release by the Go Cedar Rapids board notes his experience also includes being one of the first hires at Teleconnect in the 1980s and he was also chief financial officer at Yellowbook USA, a $2-billion dollar business.

And board members believe those are the skills needed to see if Go Cedar Rapids can recover from more than $2-million dollars in event losses.

The board overseeing the nonprofit Go Cedar Rapids office expected a first-year loss for the newbo evolve event of approximately $640,000. But the final numbers shocked.

The event recorded $2.3-million dollars in losses.

Board members fired former chief executive Aaron McCreight and creative director Scott Tallman last week.

Haddad says it’s his job now to pick up the pieces.

“It’s a balancing act, no doubt about it. We have to repay the vendors, we have to work with the vendors, work with the bank to develop a plan that will satisfy everybody,” Haddad said.

One question the board wants answered is why newbo evolve lost so much more money than expected.

Terry Peters, president of Townsquare Media in Cedar Rapids, organized a large country music festival in Des Moines about 10 years ago and also put on a smaller music event in Newbo in 2015. That Newbo Music Festival drew about 3,500 concert-goers.

Peters says he thinks newbo evolve wildly overestimated what people in the area would pay for entertainment.

“I kept thinking maybe there’s something I don’t know and I wanted them to succeed. Obviously, there wasn’t,” Peters said.

Peters, who is also a member of a nonprofit board in Cedar Rapids, thinks the Go Cedar Rapids board should have monitored ticket sales more closely.

But John Myers, president of the Go Cedar Rapids board, insists the former CEO hid the bad news and board members did the best they could.

“At this point in time, our board believes the organization can survive. We, of course, believe we are so early on in this process we’re going to continue to work hard, continue to put plans in place to help us deliver through on that,” Myers said.

And Myers said while two leaders of the organization lost jobs as a result of the newbo evolve problems, the current members of the board intend to stay in place.

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