Historic District in Virginia Laying Off Employees

Colonial Williamsburg Is Laying Off Employees and Outsourcing Operations

The foundation that runs the tourist attraction Colonial Williamsburg has announced that it will be laying off 71 employees as part of restructuring efforts.

About 300 employees working at the foundation’s living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia are going to be affected under the restructuring plan, which includes 71 layoffs.

At the same time, the foundation will be outsourcing some of its operations. The job functions being outsourced will include the management and maintenance of the foundation’s golf courses, retail stores, and commercial real estate—including hotels.

About 262 employees will be affected by the outsourcing move. These employees have been promised that they will be allowed to continue working for at least one year with the contractors to whom these operations are being outsourced. After one year, however, their employment status will be uncertain.

The restructuring efforts are being undertaken to make the foundation financially stable. Colonial Williamsburg’s President and CEO, Mitchell B. Reiss, has said that the outsourcing is meant to bring in professional managers who can drive the foundation’s properties to profitability. The management team aims to achieve its profitability goal by 2019.

The restructuring plan has been put into effect to take the foundation out of a death spiral of piling financial losses. The foundation reports that it has lost about $54.0 million in 2016. This is equivalent to approximately $148,000 per day. Operating losses for the last five years stand at a staggering $277.0 million.

Reiss explains that various factors have contributed to the losses. He says that the history museum has seen a decline in traffic as times and tastes have changed. He says that the museum now receives half the number of visitors that it did 30 years ago.  This has caused a decline in revenue.

The museum has been taking on debt in order to improve its hospitality services and visitor experience. The two factors have jointly contributed to the foundation’s growing financial troubles.

Reiss said, however, that the management team believes it will be able to “turn losses into profits going forward.” He also said that the foundation will seek tax relief from the Williamsburg municipal government.

Marvin Collins, the City Manager of Williamsburg, has stated that the city will extend its hand to collaborate with the foundation. “The Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area is central to the city’s strategic goal ‘to protect and enhance Williamsburg’s unique character and iconic landmarks,” said Collins.

Sources

Colonial Williamsburg announces layoffs, major changes,” Daily Press, June 29, 2017.

Colonial Williamsburg Cuts Jobs To Reduce Growing Debt,” NPR, June 29, 2017.

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