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Opportunities abound for Expo Center

Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:34 PM

The Wilson County Commission heard the preliminary results of a feasibility study regarding a possible Expo Center Wednesday.

Murak Arik presented to commissioners the findings of the study performed by Middle Tennessee State University.

The study was based in part on a survey given to 106 local businesses. Questions included whether the business would use the facility for any functions or events, how much the business was willing to pay for hotel accommodations and a couple of others.

“We surveyed local businesses to identify the demand for meeting space,” Arik said. The study also used peer counties, those of similar size to Wilson County, to determine a baseline for the number of employees that the center would have as well as projected costs and revenue.

For the center’s initial year of operation, the study estimates there would be $16 million in business revenue and the creation of 135 jobs. Once the center has become stabilized, the study estimates a revenue of $4.8 million per year.

“There are a significant number of expo centers west of Lebanon, but if you look east, there is a significant opportunity for Lebanon and Wilson County,” Arik said. “Given the location, you have a premium location for this kind of facility.”

Following the presentation, several of the commissioners voiced concerns they had.

Commissioner Jeff Joines said he appreciated all of the hard work done on the study but added “the majority of the study was based on [the surveys from local businesses], that doesn’t calculate anything we already have coming to the Ag Center right now.”

Arik acknowledged that the study did not include these events, which he said is “a huge number.”

Commissioner Bernie Ash asked what effects could be felt if Lebanon were to build the Cumberland Center, to which Arik said “I will look into that.”

The issue will be revisited Monday in a joint meeting of the Public Works, Ag Management and Budget Committees at 5 p.m.

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