Finally, Wilmington is going to have its convention center.
On Monday, elected officials and business leaders broke ground on the project that has been talked about, in one form or another, since the 1930's. There are still plenty of naysayers, but really, where would our world be if we followed those who are so quick to find excuses NOT to do something?
The fact is nothing worth doing has ever been easy. And the new convention center is no exception. You'll hear a lot of people say it's a mistake to start building the center without an agreement for an adjacent hotel. Would it be better if a hotel agreement were in place? Of course. Would it be better to risk the project's funding, the 1,200 jobs it will create and perhaps its very existence by waiting until a hotel developer comes aboard? Absolutely not!
With most decisions, it's impossible to know the outcome in advance. So you evaluate the potential upside and you look closely at the potential downside. In this case, our city leaders and state representatives,past and present, have done a remarkable job of structuring this project in a manner that allows our local citizens to benefit from the millions of dollars in convention business that currently goes elsewhere, while protecting taxpayers from any possible losses.
The potential upside is more than $1.5 million in new tax revenue generated by visitors that will help keep OUR tax bills lower. The potential downside is a small operating loss that will be covered by hotel room occupancy taxes paid by visitors. When you look at what we have to gain versus what we have to lose, it's clear the majority of City Council members made the right decision for the future of our community when they voted to move ahead with breaking ground on the convention center.