Results of USM’s hotel feasibility study address city’s capacity for hotel construction

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tuesday, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen discussed the results of a hotel feasibility study performed by representatives from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development.
Back in January, the Board approved the study, which cost the city $10,000, according to previous coverage.
“What we’ll be doing is a supply and demand data-driving type of analysis that you all need to have in front of you if you’re going to try to see where you stand as a city to support a hotel of some type,” Shannon Campbell, director of the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development, told the Board at the Dec. 16, 2015 meeting. “It will include what size of a hotel you can maintain, if needed it shows it’s favorable. That data will tell you where your strengths are in order to attract a possible hotel developer.”
Several of Poplarville’s key strengths were listed in the study:
• By the year 2025, the population is expected to increase by 2.8 percent.
• Median household income is $46,563, which is higher than that of Pearl River County’s average ($40,997) and the State of Mississippi’s average ($39,464).
• The city’s location in relation to major cities such as Hattiesburg, New Orleans and Mobile.
• Currently, there is no local hotel to accommodate visitors to events and meetings.
• The presence of schools and Pearl River Community College may provide the demand to support a new hotel.
• The affordability of the destination.
Also listed in the study were some of the challenges for a new hotel in Poplarville:
• The median income is still lower than the national median income of $53,482.
• Poplarville’s unemployment rates ranked higher than Pearl River County, the state and national averages.
• The distance to major cities is more than a half-hour away.
• The city and Pearl River County’s lack of a large corporate presence.
• Limited traditional visitor amenities such as local attractions, events and festivals.
In summation, study analysts recommend “the construction of a midscale or upper midscale 50 to 80-room hotel on or near the intersection of Highway 11 and 26 or Highway 26 and 53,” the study states.
Poplarville City Clerk Jane O’Neal said Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise said during the meeting he would begin developing marketing material to accompany the study into presentations to various hotel corporations.

In other action the Board:
• Appointed Lisa Lodds to the Poplarville Planning Commission. She will replace Marcus Jordan, O’Neal said.
• Discussed the possibility of drafting a golf cart ordinance at a later date, O’Neal said.
• Discussed the relocation of donated playground equipment, O’Neal said. A former Department of Human Services facility was sold to a private individual, she said. There is “top-notch” equipment there and the person wants to donate the equipment to Raine Street Community Center, O’Neal said. No action was taken on the matter, she added.
• Discussed applying for a grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation for the city’s green space and railroad park downtown, O’Neal said.
• Hired the CPA firm Topp, McWhorter, Harvey, PLLC, O’Neal said. They have offices in Hattiesburg, Columbia and Gulfport and an extensive background in performing governmental audits, O’Neal said. The cost for the audit is not to exceed $36,000, she added.
• Set dates for two 2017 Fiscal Year budget workshops. The first will be held on July 1 at 8 a.m. and the second on July 8 at 8 a.m., O’Neal said. The workshops will be held at the boardroom at City Hall.
The next Board meeting will be held on July 5 at 5 p.m. in the boardroom at City Hall.

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