A Better Region 8: What's going on with the convention centers?

Several months ago here on A Better Region 8, we asked if we could really see two convention centers in Jonesboro?  In that editorial, I also said: "Two convention centers in one city equal lots of drama and lots of questions."

Here we are over six months later with little to show for it.

The O'Reilly project on Arkansas State's campus is nothing more than a fence surrounding the old track.  No movement there and no real update.

The Keller convention center on the south side of town shows a little progress. But Chris Keller, whose family will own the hotel and convention center, said in February that the project had been put on hold for two weeks. He said the project's investor was five months behind on his draws of money and was just recently approved for $100 million in new funding from his investors.  That was last month.

This project has the same local developers as the Greensborough Village Town Center project at Hilltop in Jonesboro.  That is a piece of land that was cleared, and promises were made over two years ago to start construction.  That hasn't  happened either.

The idea of two convention center projects has been an ongoing story with twists and turns and lots of questions.

Who's going to be first?

Will there really be two convention centers?

And I'll add the question: Could we go from two planned convention centers to none?

I want to believe that these projects are going to happen. I really do.

What the citizens of Region 8 need to see in these projects is more than bulldozers moving dirt around or just pouring concrete footings. What we're looking for is real construction with steel coming out of the ground and buildings taking shape.

Then I'll believe these projects are really going to happen.

We'll continue following this story, and our journalists will hold those in power accountable.

Having a good plan, executing it, and showing progress when that's what the citizens of Region 8 deserve, makes this A Better Region 8.

- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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