KENT, Ohio—A unique public/private partnership, that includes $9 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) from Finance Fund, and $6.5 million from Development Fund of the Western Reserve (DFWR), will enable the Kent State University (KSU) Foundation to fund an important new hotel and conference center that will create 472 local jobs and spur regional tourism growth and economic development.
Project partners in the $15.6 million Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Kent include the Kent State University Foundation, The Pizzuti Companies of Columbus, City of Kent, DFWR, which is controlled by the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, and Finance Fund.
“The partnership that is now making downtown redevelopment in Kent a reality has been a team effort of many committed organizations and individuals,” said Gene Finn, Kent State’s vice president for advancement and executive director of the KSU Foundation, in an announcement.
The new 95-room hotel is part of a larger $100 million redevelopment project in downtown Kent that will offer retail, office and residential space. Construction of the hotel, slated to open in the spring 2013, will generate 430 construction jobs. When complete, the hotel and conference center will result in 42 permanent jobs in a community that has a 29 percent poverty rate.
“There are no comparable hotels in the immediate area,” said Joel S. Pizzuti, president of The Pizzuti Companies. “There will be significant impact on the local economy including small business growth, job creation and additional development.”
The new hotel and conference center will serve university visitors and support area tourism overall. In addition, Kent and Akron-area employers are expected to hold corporate conferences and special events in the 5,400-square-foot, 300-seat ballroom/conference center. The hotel will also serve as a learning space for students, particularly for those enrolled in KSU’s hospitality management degree program.
“This project hits all of our hot buttons,” said Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein. “It drives jobs and economic development as well as spill-over benefits as it provides education for students building skills for future employment.” Finance Fund is investing $8 million in federal and $1 million in state New Markets Tax Credits.
Thousands of campus visitors are attracted to the area each year. KSU is now the second largest public university in Ohio with total student enrollment of more than 41,000. “A driving force behind the hotel is to provide a home base for our returning alumni and to overnight prospective students and keep them downtown,” Finn said.