By David Tuma, Publisher
As the dynamics of Bell County changes away from tradition areas of importance, so does Belton. A far cry from being the place to live 20-years ago, Belton once again moves toward the forefront. From one of the best grocery stores in the state, Nolan Creek’s white water area, two of the top rated BBQ joints in the state, Belton has it going.
With Lake Belton, historic downtown, the best school district in Central Texas and located at the intersection of IH-35 and IH-14, Belton is the crossroads for Bell County. Looking over the past 10-years Belton proper has dramatically changed. It is the beginning of a dramatic shift for Bell County with the future developments near Shanklin Road area.
The City of Belton city council has authorized a consulting firm for the preparation of a feasibility study for a potential conference center and hotel. The executive conference center and hotel facilities will be with the city limits of Belton. The areas to be considered are: Bell County Expo Center, historic downtown Belton and Lake Belton.
There are several potential sites in the city limits of Belton that will be considered. With the proximity of Lake Belton, the best local restaurants in Bell County, Nolan Creek Trail system and an historic downtown makes this Belton a top competitor in this area. Nobody has all that in one area. What Belton has lacked is hotels to attract conventions. Tying in a hotel with a convention center fits it with what Belton is becoming.
Belton is where two interstates meet. The beauty of downtown is an amazing 20-year transformation. “We are investigating if the time is right for a convention center. Under what condition would it be feasible to build a motel and conference center,” said Paul Romer, Public Relations Officer for the City of Belton. “Downtown is the place to be. There is a beauty that is unique. The conference center would draw commercial properties.” The bids went out and they are due back in March. A conference center was part of a strategic plan developed for the City of Belton.
If developed, the center will be run by a private company. The city will look into the possibility of filing in any financial gaps with incentives if needed.
Several key points need to be looked at in this proposed project. How many jobs will be created and the economic impact of the tourism dollars the convention creates? There is more than coming and staying. Very few will attend conventions and go straight their motel rooms, when downtown Belton is nearby with a lot to offer.
It is generally considered that for every $1 spent in tourism doubles to $2 in actual economic impact. Studies vary, but for every new job created, this possible endeavor will create around 1.5 more jobs.