Consider This: Convention Center

JUNE 7, 2006 -- There hasn't been much progress on building our convention center, until now. You recall that the owners of four local hotels filed a lawsuit blocking the structure of the convention center contract, and that action threatened to tie up the deal in the courts for years. The City of Wilmington has agreed to a restructuring of the financing and management plan for the convention center in order to move the project forward before the rising cost of building materials and labor drive the price of a convention center out of reach. The amended deal puts the management of the convention center in the city's hands where the city will receive the profits from the operation of the convention center or cover any losses.

A re-distribution of the room occupancy tax revenue is necessary to make this deal work, and a portion of the Tourism Development Authority funding will move to support building the convention center. In exchange, the city has promised to contract with the TDA to market the convention center, and that arrangement was approved by the TDA Board of Director's last week.

All that stands in the way of moving forward is the passage of a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly to approve the changes in the distribution formula of the room occupancy taxes in New Hanover County. We believe the convention center is a much-needed economic development engine for the region and urge the bill's approval. The convention center will bring conventioneers and their families to the region. They'll stay in our hotels, shop, dine and explore all of our attractions and create more jobs and more sales tax revenue for New Hanover County.

If you agree, you need to contact our state representatives and tell them you're in support of North Carolina House Bill 2684. Don't hesitate. This is the General Assembly's short session, and the bill should be voted on in just a matter of days.

That's what we think. Tell us what you think.