Local Businesses React to Withdrawn Convention Center Plans

MAY 1, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- As you may have heard, the proposedJohn Q. Hammons Convention Center plans have been withdrawn. However, the news comes with mixed feelings for many Region 8 businesses that would have profited from the economic boom the center could have caused Jonesboro.

“I don't see why anybody would be against it to tell you the truth, it seems like it would've been good for everyone to me,” says Brad Blaylock, a Jonesboro resident.

Regardless, the convention center plans are no more, and many businesses have mixed feelings on the news of the recent withdrawal by John Q. Hammons.

“Of course it would have brought more clientele to our restaurant and our club. However, it would just be a great opportunity for Jonesboro to get something of that magnitude in the town,” says Mallory Johnston, the manager of Omar’s Steakhouse in Jonesboro .

Last Friday, Hammons sent a letter to Mayor Doug Formon withdrawing his plans to build the multi-million dollar convention center for the city. He noted that he was disappointed with the city council's enthusiasm towards the project in his letter and didn't feel that there was enough local support to justify spending so much time, effort, and money.

seems to be on a high with the recent addition of the new mall and many business owners say the convention center would have only added to the growth of the city.

“Of course I was disappointed because in this area, I believe Jonesboro is in great need of a facility like this. I think it would be a great opportunity to bring in other businesses and conventions, and of course, we would grow,” says Mallory Johnston.

Naz Kazi, Co-Owner of Quality Suites on hotel row in Jonesboro , was originally a strong supporter of the center, but after the proposed sales tax was added, he felt like they would end up paying for their competitor to come to town.

"We would have paid almost $10, 000 in additional taxes to pay for the convention center," says Naz Kazi.

He also mentioned he wasn't so sure Jonesboro was even ready for such a large center.

"Most conventions are held in popular places, so they bring their families and stuff and there's like water parks or zoos or at least something to take their families to afterwards, or there's a nightlife, in which Jonesboro lacks," says Kazi.

Support or no support, the plans are officially cancelled and business owners will have to look elsewhere for an increase in revenue.