Proposed Funding for Jonesboro Convention Center

A few weeks ago we mentioned that we support plans to construct a convention center and new fire station in Jonesboro and were waiting to see the actual proposal before we made additional comments. Last week the Jonesboro City Council approved a resolution and will allow the citizens of Jonesboro the opportunity to vote on the proposed referendum in June.

Now that we have seen the actual proposal we continue with our standpoint that a positive vote for the convention center is good for the city and good for the entire region.

Consider This…

John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts based in Springfield , Missouri plans to construct a nine story, 220 room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and an adjoining 65,000 square foot convention center. I have been fortunate to stay in facilities constructed by Mr. Hammons and I can tell you that his company runs a first class operation.

We support this project based on the results of various studies including an economic impact analysis by The Delta Center for Economic Development at Arkansas State University . This study shows that the center will have a very positive impact on the community in terms of additional jobs and increased spending by people visiting our area utilizing the facility. This additional revenue is estimated to be somewhere between $58 million and $113 million dollars. Money spent buying food, gas, shopping, and many other goods and services.

Mr. Hammons has already invested in our community ... to be exact... $3 million dollars... by purchasing the land where the hotel & convention center will sit.

When KAIT enters into a business partnership we expect each side to see a benefit. In this situation that is exactly what is happening. The city benefits, Mr. Hammons benefits and even better... all the citizens benefit.

This temporary increase to fund construction of the convention center... and a much needed fire station... will last a maximum of two years. The investment however will continue to provide returns to the community for many, many years.

I would think if someone offered you, or me, the opportunity to make an investment over the course of two years or less that would continue to pay dividends for many years to come that we would jump all over it. I certainly would.

That is what Mr. Hammons is offering. Let's vote yes in June for the convention center... and keep Jonesboro on this strong growth curve.

Viewer Comments:

Jim K. of Jonesboro writes:

While I am a supporter of the new convention center, I am opposed to an additional tax to finance it. My suggestion is to impose a $.50 tax on the alcholic drinks that are being served in our city. I do not oppose the private club permits, in fact, I believe if the county were wet and we imposed a tax on the alchol, the county and city would both benefit but while I don't see that happening in the future,lets make the best of what we have. People who smoke bare the burden of being taxed, why not drinkers?

Mark B. of Jonesboro writes:

Concerning the April 24 "Consider This" segment. Even though the new hotel and convention center could be a great economic benefit to Jonesboro, why should the taxpayers of Jonesboro be forced to fund it? Even if the voters voted in favor of funding the hotel and convention center there would be those who voted against it but would still be paying taxes to support it.  If it is such a good investment let those who are interested in it invest on a voluntary basis, not forcibly through taxation.  If you use the argument of how much of an economic impact it could have in the Jonesboro area couldn't this same argument be used for all businesses in the city? It is just a matter of degrees of impact, and I don't see the taxpayer having to help fund smaller but more numerous other businesses. I believe taxpayer money should not be used to help fund a private business venture just because it would be a benefit to the community, let the marketplace decide if a project is worthy of an individuals money not the government.

Jan B. of Jonesboro

   I don't think Joneboro needs such a monsterous building. There are plenty of hotels and motels in the town that are hardly ever completely full where people can stay. There are huge churches with large meeting rooms that could be used. There are plenty of places for people to stay in this town already and plenty of meeting rooms.

   The Convocation Center was supposed to have brought capacity crowds to town too but very seldom is it filled to capacity for any event. 

   Traffic on the weekends in this town is getting very conjested and hard to drive in as it is, if we built this big Convention Center it would be even harder to drive around town.
   This Convention Center would benefit a handful of people, maybe, but to the rest of us it would only mean more money and more difficult driving conditions.  I do not believe we need it at all. Thank you for letting me voice my thoughts.