Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dueling convention centers for Jonesboro

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 4:15 PM

click to enlarge A CAMPUS HOTEL: Arkansas State will go ahead with hotel project to compete with one approved earlier by Jonesboro. - ASU
  • ASU
  • A CAMPUS HOTEL: Arkansas State will go ahead with hotel project to compete with one approved earlier by Jonesboro.

Arkansas State University
will proceed with an on-campus hotel and convention center while the city of Jonesboro proceeds with support of a competing convention center project subsidized by city Advertising and Promotion Commission money, KAIT-TV reports.

ASU will lease campus land to O'Reilly Hospitality Management of Springfield, which will build an Embassy Suites hotel with a convention center. It will enjoy corporate welfare in the form of a $400,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority. Earlier, the city decided to use city money to back the Keller Family Hotel and Convention Center project. Mayor Harold Perrin backed the Keller project. He thinks there's sufficient business for both, something the O'Reilly side questions. Said Tim O'Reilly, CEO:

"It is unfortunate both that there appears to be a political competition of sorts regarding our project and another convention center project that has been attempted for many years, and that there is definitely not a market or opportunity to succeed for two convention centers in Jonesboro. However, we have great faith in our partnership with A-State which when combined with the outpouring of support from many facets of the Jonesboro business and medical communities, the powerful Hilton/Embassy booking and global marketing and sales engine, and our team's experience and past success with this type of project, and we will press forward without hesitation and we will persevere and succeed in this market."
ASU hasn't been happy with Perrin's support for the Keller project.

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