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September 17, 2013

End of big construction projects hits hospitality

As the dust begins to settle from a couple of major construction projects, the hotel and motel business in Daviess County is coming back to reality.

During the last couple of years there’s barely been room at any of the inns as workers from the Duke Energy Power Plant and I-69 construction project moved into the area. Now those workers have moved on and the hospitality people are noticing the difference.

“We’re not as busy and our revenue has dropped,” said Lori Hinkle, general manager for Holiday Inn Express. “The big change is on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. When the construction was going we were normally sold out on those days.”

Since the construction shut down and moved on occupancy at the Holiday Inn Express has dropped about 10 percent. The situation though may be worse around the county. “We have seen our revenue from the Innkeeper’s Tax fall from $224,000 to $188,000,” said Daviess County Visitor’s Bureau Director Samantha Bobbitt. “We were expecting that to happen with the big construction projects ending. Our budget for next year is back to 2007 levels.”

The I-69 and Duke construction projects propped up the hotel business locally while many other hospitality operators around the country struggled through the recession. “We would go to regional meetings where there were a lot of sad faces and we would tell them our occupancy rate was staying above 80 percent,” said Hinkle.

Now the challenge in Daviess County is to build attractions and get people into town again. Part of the fall-off has been softened by a major project planned by IPL in Petersburg. “It is picking back up some,” said Hinkle.

Officials say the festival business this fall has also helped. “We had record crowds for the Turkey Trot and White River Valley Antique Show earlier this month,” said Bobbitt. “The car show also brought in a number of people.”

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