The Henry County Council for Quality Growth recently pitched the idea to the steering committee for a proposed 1-cent sales tax referendum, hoping for a piece of the $200 million SPLOST IV pie.
“We’ve got several options,” Executive Director Steve Cash, who also heads the committee, said about financing. “We might need a little help from SPLOST.”
He said the council decided in March to take the lead on the project on 2 acres of land whose owner he said he could not reveal at this time.
“We will disclose soon,” he said.
Cash said the new project will not compete with existing meeting spaces but supplement them.
“The new one would be a class A conference center,” he said about its ability to host 1,000 ballroom guests and 300 conference room attendees, “while the others are not.”
Cash said if voters approve the referendum with the conference center on the list, the project will start making the rounds of zoning meetings in February.
Owner’s representative Haytham Gebara of North America Cost Management Co. made the presentation to the SPLOST IV committee.
“It will be a 16-month construction schedule,” Gebara said.
He said its economic impact will be “huge,” according to an Aug. 12 report by Buckhead-based PKF Consulting.
“The numbers are staggering,” Gebara said. “This is the only project in which the impact to the local economy is 100 percent.”
The new project may attract big conventions.
“I think Henry County is losing all this business for no reason. You’ve got all these companies here,” Gebara said about major employers like Piedmont Henry Hospital. “You can keep them here in your county instead of them going to downtown Atlanta.”
Not only will surrounding businesses make a profit, but more business will surround the new attraction.
“You will have the hotel companies build around this facility – the Hiltons, the Marriotts,” Gebara said. “There’s a lot of new construction that will go on.”
Bob White, executive director of the Henry County Development Authority, said that is a piece of the economic puzzle currently missing.
“Some of the major hotels have been very interested because we don’t have a lot of upscale lodging,” he said.