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Athens State to study need for convention center

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — To keep people staying in Limestone County motels, playing on its golf courses and shopping in its stores.

That's why Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, said a convention center is a good idea for Athens.

An indoor place to hold festivals and other tourist events is another reason, said Hugh Ball, president of the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce, who agreed the city needs a center.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, and Rep. Henry White, D-Athens, presented the chamber, city and county with a $38,100 grant for a feasibility study. Athens State University's Brenda Harper, an associate professor of business, will oversee that study.

The study will determine if the city needs a center, the best site, the size, the staffing needs and the economic impact.

"When our industries have training or anniversary events, they have to go to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville or the Holiday Inn in Decatur," said Hill. "They end up shopping there, eating there and playing golf there. We want them to do that here."

Ball said the county has various events, such as the Storytelling Festival and Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, that draw large crowds.

"If we had bad weather, I don't know where we could put everyone," he said.

The study will take until Jan. 31, 2008.

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