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Mayor John Warford announced the City of Bismarck is releasing an updated economic impact study today showing the positive return on investment if the meeting and conference space expansion moves forward. The study was conducted by Conventions, Sports and Leisure (CSL), a leading Minneapolis-based advisory and planning firm specializing in consulting services to the hospitality industry. The City of Bismarck retained CSL several months ago to update a 2008 feasibility study of the Civic Center.
“The results of the study update indicate a positive return on investment for taxpayers,” said Mayor Warford. “From increased tax revenues to job creation, the study shows a minimum of a $1.60 return for each dollar invested in the expansion. If the city can reach a deal with one of the two proposed hotel developers, that return on investment increases to $2.62 for each dollar invested.”
• Today, the Civic Center generates $17.7 million in economic impact and supports just under 300 jobs. • The CSL study showed the proposed expansion will increase the overall economic impact to $26.1 million and add 143 new jobs with the expansion alone. • With the expansion and a full service hotel, the overall economic impact increases to $31.6 million and supports another 236 jobs in the community.
In addition to the economic impact and jobs, the study shows the tax collections for the city could increase from $261,000 to just under $600,000 with the expansion or up to $736,000 if a hotel is constructed adjacent to the Civic Center.
Noting that the expansion will be beneficial to all Bismarck citizens, Mayor Warford stated: “More activities at the Civic Center will actually help ensure that our taxpayers don’t have to support the facility with property tax dollars.” “A slight increase in the hospitality taxes, paid in significant part by visitors, will eliminate or decrease any potential property tax burden on local taxpayers for Civic Center operations.”
To update the 2008 study, CSL reviewed the recent yearly performance, industry trends and the increase in local hotel rooms. The study notes that over the last five years, the Exhibit Hall occupancy levels have increased nearly 10 percent and total attendance at the venue is up 20 percent.
CSL also called event planners to assess changes since the 2008 study and to gauge interest in an expanded Civic Center. The interviews confirmed the market demand outlined in the 2008 study. In addition to the CSL study, Ubl Design Group, P.C. conducted local interviews in 2008 and as recently as this summer to confirm local business and association space needs and design recommendations.
“The Civic Center is the most studied building in Bismarck,” said Mayor Warford. “Since 2001, four master plan updates and two feasibility studies were completed. All have the same result. All of the proposed improvements are as recommended in the initial study and update. It is time to expand our facility and ensure our community is competitive in the upper Great Plains for meetings and conferences.”
Warford indicated that community demand and input has been the driving factor in determining the nature and extent of the proposed civic center expansion. “In addition to the 2008 feasibility study that included many public input meetings with user groups and others, the Civic Center staff and Ubl Design Group recently met with many user groups to assess the needs and demand,” Warford said. “Over the past 4 years there has been a massive amount of community and public input that strongly supported and encouraged the expansion.”
The proposal before voters on Nov. 6 is to increase hospitality taxes by 1.5 percent of prepared food and alcohol and 2.5 percent on hotel rooms. A majority of this tax is collected from visitors to our community. No property taxes or general sales taxes will be utilized to pay for the expansion project.