By Michael Schwanke
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
4:48 PM CST, February 22, 2012
Developers say it will create more than 1,000 jobs. Those against it say “not true.”
Next Tuesday Wichita voters go to the polls to decide if the Ambassador Hotel should get special tax breaks.
A "yes" vote would allow hotel developers to keep a majority of guest tax money to put back into the hotel.
A "no" vote means all the tax money would go to promote local tourism.
“Most cities that have vibrant downtown areas have economic development tools,” says developer Paul Coury.
Coury and the group that supports the tax incentive tout more than 1,100 new jobs.
A Wichita State University study came up with the number, but it’s not fully explained in advertisements.
“There have been a couple quotes about our job number and it being 1,000 annual. That's not exactly right,” says Jeremy Hill, ddirector of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at WSU.
“There are 1,100 jobs, but it won't be an ongoing impact. You have an impact and it does help construction in the short-term that is struggling, but in the long-term it won't be 1,100 jobs on-going,” says Hill.
The hotel will employ about 120 people to sustain operations after construction is complete.
“Vote No” advocate Bob Weeks and his group raise concerns about fairness. They claim a yes vote would take money away from the convention and tourism fund.
“We think we are generous, but we think there's a line and we feel the city council crossed it,” says Weeks.
The Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau isn't taking a position on the vote, but supports the project and says a new hotel will help attract conventions and other events to downtown Wichita.
“Vote no” also points out that construction will move forward anyway. That's true. It's underway right now. But Coury says that means he may have to cut back in other areas like jobs or workers’ pay.“The truth is we were stuck. We had to go forward and it has a big impact on the project,” says Coury.
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