Rocky Mount held a City Council Meeting Monday night and heard from many residents about their concerns about the proposed Event Center. While the Council heard from everyone that wanted to speak, there was a question as to whether AECOM officials contradict themselves in their studies.
AECOM states in its 2011 Sioux Falls, South Dakota report (starting on page 35) for that city’s event center:
“… construction of a facility does not guarantee spin-off development.” … [a ]“facility’s value as a catalyst for economic development depends on where it is located and how it is integrated into the area.” … “The influx of people can provide support to restaurants and other retail establishments in the district, but only if there are existing businesses that can benefit from [its] proximity…”
AECOM also recently completed the recent Rocky Mount Events Center Economic and Development Impact Analysis. If AECOM is the expert; and its staff concludes the construction of a facility does not guarantee spin-off development, and then only if there are existing businesses; then how can an event center be promoted as a transformational catalyst for downtown development? The crucial factor is the need for private downtown investment before Rocky Mount even considers an event center.
No, this study isn’t about Rocky Mount. Even though the city has a railroad, the city doesn’t have a sufficient market outside of the event Center, development opportunities are limited around the downtown area, and there is not much in walking distance from the event center.
Why would AECOM say an Event Center be a good thing when circumstances are the same as in Sioux Falls? Could someone be telling them to skew the research?