Plans to build a new convention center in Hays are progressing.
Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, said the coalition met with local bankers Thursday for help in putting up the funds for the project.
The coalition is also working toward applying for a Community Improvement District application, which means businesses and restaurants surrounding the proposed convention center will need to agree to apply an additional sales tax to their services.
The CID revenue would be used to pay off the bonds sold to banks to generate the capital to build the facility, proposed to be constructed on vacant land just south of Holiday Inn Express.
White said the most current cost estimate of the facility is $8 million, although that figure is tentative. The CID sales tax increase, which would need to be approved by the Hays City Commission, would be less than 1 percent, he added.
White said most businesses in the proposed CID he has talked to are in favor of the convention center, because it will generate revenue for the community and fills a gap in Hays. White said many conventions bypass Hays because there is not an adequate space to hold up to 480 people that also includes the breakout rooms needed for conventions.
The coalition has been working on a convention center since the city publicly solicited bids from potential developers a few years ago and received no interest. The city had received complaints from patrons about the existing convention center, formerly a Ramada and now Hays Ambassador Hotel.