Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says restructuring is working
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation said Wednesday that a restructuring plan implemented last year is working.
The restructuring, announced a year ago, included eliminating 71 jobs and outsourcing 262 positions.
“I said this time last year that we intended to restructure the Foundation one time, and one time only,” Mitchell Reiss, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s president and CEO, said in an address to employees. “I am very happy today to say, again, that there are no plans for layoffs or reductions in force.”
Reiss stressed, however, that the organization’s biggest challenge is paying down its debt, which is due soon. The foundation is working to refinance the terms of the debt so that it is less of a burden. The foundation’s debt stood at $317 million in June 2017. Joseph Straw, Colonial Williamsburg’s public relations manager, said the debt is still more than $300 million but did not reveal the specific amount.
“The Board’s goal, and ours, is to operate Colonial Williamsburg’s commercial businesses profitably – our hotels, restaurants, golf and the spa – so that revenue from these sources can pay their operating expenses and our debt to the lenders,” Reiss said in his presentation.
Colonial Williamsburg also wants to continue increasing its endowment and use it only to support history and educational programming. The goal is to only withdraw 5 percent annually from its endowment. The foundation has made strides—withdrawing 8 percent from its endowment last year, down from more than 12 percent in 2014.
Other foundation accomplishments include setting a fundraising record last year while increasing attendance during the past two years and in the first quarter this year. Wedding and conference bookings also have increased.
Reiss also said the foundation added a 401(k) benefit option for employees, as well as a 529 tuition savings plan.
“Colonial Williamsburg is still a work in progress. For an organization this complex – culturally, financially, and otherwise – there isn’t an easy fix. But we’re starting to make it work,” Reiss said.
The foundation also released its 2017 economic impact report. In 2017, Colonial Williamsburg accounted for nearly half a billion dollars in economic output and approximately 6,900 jobs in Virginia. The organization employed 2,000 people last year, with a total payroll of $75 million, plus $22 million in employee benefits.