O’Reilly Hospitality Management has begun work sufficient to meet the deadline for funding by the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotion Commission, A&P Chairman Jerry Morgan said Friday.
Morgan said Tim O’Reilly, the Springfield, Missouri, developer planning to build an Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center on the Arkansas State Un
iversity campus, has secured financing for the project. Fencing and sitework were to begin Friday, weather permitting.
“This is welcome news for our city and our university, as well as Mr. O’Reilly,” Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said. “I commend our A&P Commission, and especially Jerry Morgan, for their effort to work with a developer to strike the right balance that will not only make a convention center feasible for its ownership, but ensure a solid return for the city in future sales tax revenue.
“I remain cautious, because most people know we’ve been trying to get a convention center built in Jonesboro for more than a decade. But this is a very positive sign.”
A&P has committed up to $2.5 million in tax rebates over the first 10 years of the 40,000-square-foot convention center’s operation. Morgan sent a letter to his fellow A&P commissioners Friday apprising them of O’Reilly’s status. A&P had given O’Reilly a 90-day window to begin work as part of the agreement, and that period concludes Saturday, Feb. 17.
“He has worked hard to meet this deadline and has also expressed his appreciation to the A&P Commission and the City of Jonesboro for being patient in this process,” Morgan wrote.
“This incentive mechanism will be mutually beneficial as the City of Jonesboro will receive a significant economic boost from the construction of this project and the future visitors that it will attract,” he said. “It is also good for the citizens of Jonesboro as no funds will be rebated back to the hotel group until after the project is completed and rooms begin to be filled.”