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Expo Center talks should resurface

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Talks of the possibility of an Expo Center are set to resurface in the coming weeks, according to Ag Center Committee Chairman Commissioner Jeff Joines.

Earlier this year the Wilson County Commission funded a $15,000 economic impact feasibility study to be conducted by the Middle Tennessee State University Business & Economic Research Center.

Joines said they were told it would be tough to have the results by the end of September, and now they are expecting to have the results around Thanksgiving.

Surveys were sent out to businesses around Wilson County and the surrounding areas, and Joines said he was told the number of responses was one of the highest they’d ever gotten back.

An increased number of survey responses, paired with the county’s request to receive the study results and information booklet at the same time, is ultimately what has pushed things back a few months, according to Joines.

Joines said the information booklet was requested so the county could have all the information needed and even have it on display in the courthouse for the public to see.

“The study results are ready, but the information program to go over it all isn’t ready, and we want it all at one time and presented all in one package,” Joines said.

Joines said he hoped to receive all of the information around the third or fourth week of November so they could move on to the next steps.

“The next process would be bringing back the information to the Ag Center Committee and going over what the study says,” Joines said.

Joines noted that some redesigning was done to the Expo Center proposal that took office space out and expanded the exhibition space by about 19,000 square feet. The change in plans has decreased the cost from $12 million to $9 million.

Joines said the Ag Center Committee would first vote on the Expo Center proposal, and if passed, the next stops would be at the county level at the Public Works and then Budget Committees.

“It’s the same information everyone has already seen, just now we’ll have information from the feasibility study to back it up,” Joines said.

Joines said hopefully the proposal would pass through all committees and see the full commission for a vote at its December meeting.

“If we hit a bump in the road, then we’ll have time to do it all again in January,” Joines said.

According to Joines, who is a strong advocate for the center, it has seen strong support on both sides.

“This is a big decision the county commission has to make,” Joines said. “Sometime in December will be the focus of everything we’re trying to do, and hopefully everyone will be in the holiday spirit and want to do it.”

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