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Marshall hotel owner urges caution on development

March 20, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - He's not against economic growth or development in Marshall, Scott Hicks said, but plans to bring growth to the area need to take the survival of existing businesses into account.

Hicks, owner of the Ramada in Marshall, said recently he's become concerned about talk of possible future development in the area, including the possibility of new lodging businesses.

Caution is needed to keep from overbuilding Marshall's hotel market, he said.

"I'm not trying to be negative," Hicks said late last week. "But let's not put the cart before the horse."

Talk about construction of a regional amateur sports center in Marshall has included opportunities for eventual private development of businesses like a hotel. However, Hicks said he also hears comments from local residents and visitors to town about how busy Marshall's hotels must be, or "misinformation" about investing in hotels.

The local market isn't as good as it was 10 years ago, he said. Hicks said the Ramada was running about $28,000 in the red in January.

Hicks said he was concerned for potential hotel investors as well as his own business. He said he's seen several cities including Mitchell, S.D., where more hotels were built than the local customer base could support. Overbuilding "just destroys the market" for all hotels and motels, he said.

Melissa Hess, manager of the Delux Motel in Marshall, said she had similar concerns, although her business would be affected differently.

As a smaller motel, she said, the Delux's business comes more from construction workers looking for temporary housing. However, if there are additional establishments competing for the current customer base in the Marshall area, she said, "Someone's not going to make it."

Managers or owners of other local hotels, including the Travelers Lodge, the Americinn and the Comfort Inn, declined to comment for this story.

In addition to the possibility of development around a proposed regional sports center,

Hicks and Hess said they've heard rumors of a new hotel coming to Marshall. As of Friday, however, the Marshall city building official's office said it has not received any building permit applications to build a hotel or motel.

At a meeting with Marshall businesspeople earlier this month, Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission co-chairman Roger Madison and Cal Brink answered questions about the possibility of a hotel being part of development near the amateur sports center being proposed near the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and Minnesota Highway 23.

Madison said supporters of the sports complex aren't recruiting hotels or other businesses. However, they couldn't stop a private business from coming to town.



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