MASON CITY, Iowa – “It would absolutely provide us an opportunity to do something that we currently cannot do,” says Sue Armour, Executive Director of Visit Mason City. She is talking about bringing different conventions to her city.
They used to partner with the Clarion Inn for events but now that a Hampton Inn and Suits is going up in its place, there will no longer be that space for gatherings like these.
“We have several meeting request or bids that we submit that are looking for a hotel that is attached to the facility that seats 250 or more,” says Armour.
That’s just to mention a few criteria’s they currently cannot fill. While there are spaces in the area for events, none are in a hotel that can room over 50 people. This is why Armour is already having to turn away some business.
“As a matter of fact, just this last couple weeks I could not submit on some conventions that I would normally have submitted but, because of lack of facilities we just don’t have. We had to pass,” she says.
Now, there is a light shining at the end of the tunnel. Just months ago, developer Philip Chodur, of San Diego announced plans to build a Hilton on a property next to City Hall, but unfortunately that deal fell through.
Now he is back and asking for an extension on his negotiating agreement with the city, signaling that he has something else in the works. Earlier this week, that request was approved.
“They requested, and we agreed that we would still like to see the development have a chance to succeed and occur,” says City Administrator Brent Trout.
He says they were a little hesitant since he didn’t come through the first time, but this new hotel would provide the much needed convention space.
“Having this new space will give us the opportunity to compete for those types of conventions and hopefully make them happen here in our community which is great for business throughout the city. Bars and restaurants and other establishments that people go shop, so it’s important to have that kind of space,” Trout says.
Armour says, the money going into these local businesses is more than you think.
“On average, a convention delegate spends $147 per day while they’re in town and on average our conventions are lasting 2 1/2 to 3 days,” she says.
Before businesses see any of this money though, clients have to accept Armour’s bid.
“You can’t win if you don’t play, and right now we are in a situation in many instances that we’re not able to play,” says Armour.
However, if this new development comes to life, Armour says they will be playing hard.
City Administrator Brent Trout tells us we will know more about which hotel could be built in Mason City later in June.