OXFORD – Ground was broken Monday for Hampton Inn East across from the Oxford Conference Center.
The five-story, 88-room hotel, to be built by Oxford-based Jalaram Corp., may be just the boost needed to help the city-owned conference center become more prosperous.
City officials have lamented the meeting facility’s slow sales and resulting revenue losses since the economy turned downward, despite a 282-seat auditorium and banquet seating for more than 800.
“This isn’t going to be anything but a positive for the Conference Center and this city,” said Conference Center Manager Hollis Green. “So many groups in this part of the state – from Jackson northward, and even from west Tennessee – won’t even consider you unless you’ve got a hotel adjoining your property or one, as this would be, across the street.”
“It’s going to be very good for the conference center, because when people come here for meetings, they can stay here. One is going to be good for the other,” said Ward 4 Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell.
“This area’s growing, because there’s a possibility for the hospital to be out here, and for the new high school.”
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant congratulated Chan Patel, whose family owns Jalaram Corp., for the courage to build such a project when many business people are nervous about starting something new.
Patel said he hopes to open in time to host guests for the University of Mississippi’s Sept. 3, 2011, football season opener with Boise State University.
“I am the eternal optimist; this is The United States of America,” he said. “It’s like the lieutenant governor said – if you don’t swing the bat, you can’t score.”
ERROL CASTENS / Daily Journal Oxford Bureau