Hotel Possibilities in Centralia

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CENTRALIA - A Centralia committee is is in the initial stages on trying to bring a hotel to the city. The process is in the very early stages but City Administrator Matt Harline said the city has already been contacted by a hotel firm wanting to possibly build a hotel in the city. 

The mayor appointed the committee members which include himself, the Chamber of Commerce executive director, CREDI president, and Harline. The committee is in charge of hearing different proposals and deciding which one it feels will be best for Centralia.

Harline said the Centralia Regional Economic Development, Inc, proposed the idea to the city. However, Harline said CREDI was not the only one responsible for the idea. 

"Well a group of different individuals have talked about the idea of how a hotel or motel or bed and breakfast would benefit the city of Centralia," Harline said.

Harline said there used to be hotels in the town many years ago but weren't able to survive. 

He said the city is in a better situation to own a hotel now because the city has an EEZ zone which meant there are tax abate zones in the city for hotels that would allow for the investor to get a quicker return on his or her money. CREDI Secretary-Treasurer Lorry Myers said the EEZ district is basically an economic district in the city which would give a potential investor a tax rebate on the investment if it meets the requirements set by the city.

Myers said not only would the hotel benefit the investors, it would also benefit Centralia citizens and guests.

"For people traveling, they get to stay local," Myers said. "They get to stay where their families are and don't have to drive 30 minutes away. They can stay here with us in Centralia."

She says the traffic along Missouri Highway 22 and 124 make Centralia a great and easy place for those traveling to stay.

Harline agreed the hotel would benefit the citizens and the visitors but it would also benefit the city as a whole. 

"It's a piece of the economic offerings we don't have yet," Harline said.

He said the hotel would also benefit the city because it would allow for more out of town guests to visit the multiple festivals the town puts on each year. He said it is tough to get people to come to the festivals from out of town because they must travel to surrounding cities to find a place to stay.

"There's a bit of status and pride in having at least one hotel in town," Harline said. "But more importantly it's really important to have a hotel for a lot more events."

He said the hotel would benefit the citizens because it would give them a place to house guests from out of town who are visiting or are coming to the town for reunions.

While Harline believes the city would benefit from a hotel, he said the city understands there are people out there who are skeptical of the idea. He said he hasn't heard anyone says they are against the idea, they just want data first before they are fully on board. 

He said the goal of the city is to collect enough data that would guarantee the city is making the right decision by bringing a hotel to town.

Harline said it is a good thing there are some skeptics out there because that will only help the city in deciding if a hotel is really feasible for the town.

"We do need some healthy skepticism," Harline said. "It's great to be a booster of the town but we do need data and that's what we're after here."

Harline said before the city can finalize on the decision to bring a hotel to town it must first do a feasibility study which would tell the committee if Centralia is a good candidate for having and maintaining a hotel.

Myers said the feasibility study will not only be good for the hotel companies but it will also help Centralia out in deciding if the town is fit to bring in other new businesses as well.

Harline said there is still much work to do before any official announcements can be made but said he believes the city is taking the right steps to ensure this is the right move for the town of Centralia.

He said the city has hired Growth Services Group in Moberly to conduct a feasibility study.