PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The look of Highway 90 in Pascagoula is about to change in a big way. Ground was broken Monday for a new flagship hotel in the city: A 119 room Hilton Garden Inn at the corner of Hospital Road and Highway 90. It will replace the old LaFont Inn that was torn down two years ago.
"There are thousands and thousands of people a year that come here, that want to be here and they can't wait for this facility to open up. And that's going to mean a lot to the city," Pascagoula Mayor Robbie Maxwell said.
The Hilton may act as a business magnet, according to Councilman Frank Corder.
"The goal for this project is to spur development for this area of town," Corder said. "With the Hilton Garden Inn going in here with possible restaurants on the outlying parcels, I personally see this as a great catalyst for our future."
It also means business travelers can stay in the city. Ed Trehern is a co-owner of the hotel.
"This will be a full service hotel with a large banquet facility. So, again, we can keep much of the business here that's been going outside," Trehern explained.
One industry that will be benefit is Chevron, which brings in managers from across the country. Alan Sudduth is the communications director for the oil giant.
"Having them stay right here in Pascagoula will make it much closer to the refinery and give us an opportunity to invest a little bit more in our city," Sudduth said.
Not only will the Hilton Garden Inn bring in much needed development and business to this area of Pascagoula, it will also bring in something else that just as badly needed: Cash for a good cause.
"One way we'll benefit from the hotel is this three percent tax and we're projecting anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 a month income for recreation," said Mike McElhaney with the Pascagoula Recreation Department.
City leaders say the new hotel will mean a boost not only for city parks, but businesses that will supply the hotel.
Financing for the $25 million project was done in a variety of ways. Grant money from the Mississippi Development Authority is part of the mix, as well as a tax increment deal with the city. Private investment from local banks is also being used.
The Hilton will open no later than the spring of 2014.