A set of developers interested in investing in the Osceola area expressed a strong interest in a variety of projects. They asked me what was most needed and the answer was easy. A hotel. Hotels don’t necessarily provide the highest paying jobs, but a hotel would allow us to expand our tourism industry. Without lodging, visitors to the area who take advantage of our many recreational opportunities don’t necessarily stop and spend money at our local restaurants and retail locations. When they stay in a hotel, they stop to shop too. There is a 50 mile stretch between Clinton and Bolivar without any lodging options, so I was optimistic that a lodging market feasibility study would come back favorably.
After speaking with local business owners who had expressed an interest in possibly building a hotel as well, the next step was an easy determination to make. I needed to find a way to fund a market feasibility study for a hotel. I approached the city of Osceola board of alderman to ask for permission to pursue a USDA rural business development grant on their behalf. The city agreed as well as pledging to pay the match for the grant out of capital investment tax funds.
Once the RBDG was funded, the city of Osceola hired Growth Services Group to do the study. We picked three sites in the Highway 82 & 13 area due to the high traffic counts, easy access into town with the new interchange, and site availability. Out of the three sites submitted, the site near the new Shell station-Port was viewed the most favorably due to best highway access.
The study ultimately showed that the Osceola area was indeed an excellent place for a midsized hotel. A hotel development group, Cobblestone hotels met with local business owners, potential developers and the city of Osceola to talk about what kind of hotels would work well in the area and how Cobblestone could help. Now that the study is complete it is a great marketing tool for both the city of Osceola and St. Clair County. It is hoped that this study will spur more investment in the Osceola area.