COLUMBIA, SC — Columbia hotelier Bill Ellen has been named president and chief executive of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism.
Ellen, owner of the Clarion Hotel in Columbia, has been serving as the interim president and CEO for two months. He took over the reins of the Midlands main tourism marketing agency from former chief executive Ric Luber.
Luber resigned in December after helming the authority since 2007. No reason was given for his resignation, but several sources said it stemmed from a disagreement between some members of the authority’s board and Luber over Luber’s management of the budget, particularly raises for authority staff members.
Ellen was the authority's board chairman at the time of Luber's resignation and resigned to take over as interim chief executive. He also serves on the executive boards of the S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, as well as the Columbia Area Hotel and Lodging Association.
“Bill’s passion for and experience in the hospitality and tourism industries will be strong assets in accomplishing the organization’s overall mission and vision,” new board chair John Hardee said in a press release. “We are thrilled to have Bill in this role.”
The authority is the official tourism agency for the Columbia region and oversees the daily operations of Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and Columbia Regional Sports Council.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with such a strong and dynamic team,” Ellen said in a press release. “Over the years the organization has been instrumental in raising the perception and awareness of Columbia, SC, locally, regionally and nationally, and I’m eager to see these efforts continue and expand in the future.”