The CSBJ View: Convention center needed, period

Filed under: Opinion |

Glancing through the local daily newspaper on Tuesday, a headline caught our eye: “Hotel group nixes center’s funding.”

We assumed (wrongly it would turn out) that the Pikes Peak Lodging Association had voted to oppose the use of public money to build a downtown convention center/hotel.

Reading the entire story, we discovered that two hoteliers, of the 70-member group, are against the use of tax dollars for building a hotel. (We’re not sure what the other 68 think, the story didn’t say.)

The president of the association said in the story that a committee for the group is likely to recommend at next month’s meeting that the members oppose the plan.

So the group as a whole, at least as of now, hasn’t “nixed” the center’s funding. And we’re hoping that the other 68 members, whose thoughts and comments weren’t included in the story, look at the big picture and decide to support the building of a convention center/hotel regardless of how it is financed.

The hoteliers in the story said that it wouldn’t be fair to fund a competitive hotel with tax dollars. We guess our question to them would be, why not? Regardless of the answer, our response would be that nobody ever promised that life (or business) would be fair.

We’re wondering how many businesses would turn down government help if offered because it wouldn’t be fair to someone else. Operating under the “fairness doctrine,” we suppose the businesses that receive SBA guaranteed loans are not being fair to the businesses that don’t.

Perhaps any type of government involvement in economic stimulation should be eliminated. Because, of course, it would be ultimately fair if only extremely wealthy people could start businesses, right?

Come on, tax breaks and incentives and innovative funding proposals and such are part of how business is done today. States and counties and municipalities bend over backwards to lure corporations because of the long-term projected benefits.

Surely the traffic that the complex would generate would be a boost to the entire business community (once again, let’s look at the big picture). Estimates say that 1,200 jobs will be created and $90 million will be pumped into the local economy. Even if it’s just 1,000 jobs and $70 or $80 million, who could honestly say that that would be a bad deal for the city as a whole.

The economic impact on downtown is expected to exceed $18 million in 2007 and increase to more than $40 million by 2011. Why would anyone want to deny downtown businesses an opportunity to have a chance at a share of that money? Why would anyone want to deny any local business an opportunity to compete for the dollars being spent by the 170,000-plus people who are expected to come to town during the center’s initial year of operation? Or the money that local folks will have to spend because of those visitors?

And it won’t just be downtown that benefits. Money has a way of being spread around. The impact of the extra jobs and the infusion of dollars will ripple throughout the Colorado Springs business community. This isn’t just about hotels and booking room nights.

When you look at the big picture, the greater good, it’s really hard to imagine a downside. And let’s be honest, why would anyone really be afraid of some friendly competition?