Avedis Foundation President and CEO Michelle Briggs, during Monday's City Commission meeting, announced a $440,000 matching grant awarded for the remodeling and enhancement of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center's conference center.

Avedis Foundation President and CEO Michelle Briggs, during Monday's City Commission meeting, announced a $440,000 matching grant awarded for the remodeling and enhancement of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center's conference center.

“These improvements will allow for the hosting of major community events in a dynamic and professional setting,” she said.

The Shawnee Expo is a community and regional facility and its reach extends far beyond the City of Shawnee, she said.

The facilities are governed by seven appointed trustees who represent a broad partnership that has been in place since 1976.

“This planned endeavor is an excellent example of the community working together for the common good under a shared purpose and a promise to keep improving,” she said.

Briggs said Avedis looks forward to working with the City, County and Expo Trustees on such an important project.

“It is fitting that this work can be completed in 2017, in time for the 25th anniversary of the International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR),” she said.

City Manager Justin Erickson said it's been a pleasure to work with Briggs and Avedis on the initiative, and is thankful for the support.

“I know how important this effort is to all of us and the community,” he said. “The Expo is a defining aspect of who we are as a community –– from the annual county-wide fair, to the dozens of agricultural events, to the rodeo and the conference center –– many memories and shared experiences occur at this site.”

This support will make a major difference for the entire community, he said.

The announcement comes on the heels of another recent partnership effort between Avedis and the City to implement the Master Trail Plan.

Watch for more stories from Monday's City Commission meeting in future editions of The Shawnee News-Star.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.