Nearly $6 million expected in September tourism

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The Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau expects nearly $6 million to be pumped into the economy through spending by event visitors in September.

In a month filled with Arts in the Heart of Augusta and the Westobou Festival, it is the annual Ironman competition that will draw the most visitors and have the greastest impact, about $4 million, the bureau reported.

According to the monthy visitors’ report, the bureau expects 4,000 people to be in Augusta for the ESi Ironman 70.3 on Sept. 25.

Beginning Sept. 25 and running until Oct. 2 is the United House of Prayer for All People 2011 fall convention, which will bring in 3,000 visitors and result in $778,000 in economic impact.

The visitors bureau only counts the 100 vendors that will come to Augusta for the Arts in the Heart weekend, Sept. 16-18.

More than 900 tennis players will be in the metro area over Labor Day weekend for a junior tournament, $262,000 in visitor spending, and 500 people will arrive for an annual teachers conference for those that teach English to people who speak other languages, $101,000 in spending.

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wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 08/30/11 - 10:41 am
0
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NOOO my eyes!!!...deke in a
Unpublished

NOOO my eyes!!!...deke in a speedo......barf bags will be available.

Brad Owens
4859
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Brad Owens 08/30/11 - 11:48 am
0
0
GREAT! At that rate we will

GREAT! At that rate we will pay off the TEE Center in 100 years! HORAHH!

tomcasey
-2
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tomcasey 08/30/11 - 12:13 pm
0
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Brad I like it creative

Brad I like it creative financing!

So with the creative financing that Fred Russell was suppose to drum up for the taxpayer financed and supported Deke Copenhaver Baseball Stadium that means sometime after the turn of the next century it will turn a profit to pay us all back.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/30/11 - 12:50 pm
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The cost of the TEE Center is

The cost of the TEE Center is $38 million and was approved by the voters of RC..

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 01:53 pm
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wrong countyman.. one day

wrong countyman.. one day maybe you will get it right. The voters only approved $22.5million for the TEE Center (and that was buried in a splost package).. then the cost nearly doubled to $38 million. Then you had tax subsidiy added to pay Morris' company to run it, that added another $17.5 million to TEE. Then they tacked on a parking deck for an additional $17 million. So that brings us to a grand total of $72.5 million for TEE.. remember the voters only approved $22.50million for TEE in the splost. So that means the project's costs increased by $50 million. Do you think if the voters had those numbers in front of them that they would have approved of this project? I doubt it. Plus don't forget that to get Betty Beard to agree to award the operating contract and subisdy to Morris's company, Granthams worked out a backroom deal to give Laney-walker $37.5 million in hotel motel taxes.. so when all is said and done.. a project that voters were told was going to cost $22.5 million has ended up costing $110 million in tax dollars.

floridasun
343
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floridasun 08/30/11 - 02:29 pm
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Sounds like good news to me.

Sounds like good news to me. Why the negativity?
"Wondersnevercease" are you participating in the Ironman?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 02:47 pm
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Floridasun.. nothing negative

Floridasun.. nothing negative about events like the ironman and westobou.. they cost the city next to nothing but brings millions into the city. I'd say that's great. This is what the city should be focusing more energy on. Not on wasting millions on these big ticket boondoggles that never live up to their promises.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/30/11 - 03:55 pm
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The initial funding for the

The initial funding for the TEE Center had been discussed in the public for multiple years.. The TEE Center was clearly listed among the other splost projects and not hidden. The cost of the TEE Center grew because it took years to finally break ground.. The TEE Center was approved by RC voters back in 2005, and didn't break ground until the summer of 2010. The inital splost funding was related to the construction of the TEE center.. I love how you tried to include the operating cost of the Tee Center into the discussion($350k per year:50 year agreement with Augusta Riverfront)

The cost of the TEE center is $38 million.. The cost of the parking deck went from $10 to $12.2 million(added two extra floors and 200 spaces) and not $17 million.. The total of the TEE center project($38 million TEE center, $12.2 million parking deck, $37.5 Laney Walker/Bethlehem redevelopment) is nearly $100 million and not $110 million.. The $37.5 million approved for Laney Walker/Bethlehem is best thing to happen in decades.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 04:06 pm
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The true cost of the TEE was

The true cost of the TEE was never disclosed to voters.. all that was disclosed to voters was $22.5 million.. .. $20 million for construction and $2.5 million for debt service. Then the project set dormant for several years.. because the architectural firm hired told them it would be impossible to construct the facility they wanted for $20 million. Then you had the diasgreements on location and who would operate the facility. It was decided to locate it on land owned by one of Morris' companies next to his Marriot hotel (yes the city built this multi-million dollar taxpayer funded facility on land it doesn't even own), and to award his company the contract to operate the center. BUT Morris' company said to cover yearly operating LOSSES that they needed a $350,000 per year operating subsidy.. that was guaranteed for a 50 year period, coming in at $17.5 million. and then it was said that a parking deck was needed .. add another 17 million for that.. now I do believe in the end the cost for that has been adjusted, but we are still talking about amore than $10 million in addition spending for that. This is all in addition to the cost of constructing the TEE center which in 2009 went from $20 million plus debt service to $38 million... that's not including the parking deck and the operating subsidy for Morris' company. The additional $37.5 miilion for Laney Walker improvement came from a backroom vote buying deal engineered by Don Grantham. There was debate on possibly locating the TEE at other sites that the city actually owned and several commissioners had serious reservations with the $350,000 tax operating subsidy Morris' company wanted to operate the facility. Beard was the deciding vote, and so Grantham proposed tacking on a fee to the hotel-motel tax to fund a $37.5 million Laney Walker rehab project and the additional $17.5 million operating subsidy. That's $37.5 million for TEE (at that time which included $20 million for construction and the $17.5 million operating subsidy spread over 50 years) and $37.5 million for Laney Walker.. that was the original deal struck to get Betty's vote. But fast forward to the summer of 2009. That's when the architectural firm says that to actually construct the TEE, it's going to cost closer to $40 million than the original $20 million.. so then Grantham wanted to issue revenue bonds to cover the additional cost of constructing the center.. which had grown by $18 million over the initial price tag put on the splost ballot. It was also said that a parking deck was needed.. and that would cost an additional $15 million give or take, that could be lumped in to the revenue bonds or handles by the DDA.. but still publicly financed. The parking deck is where the bribery scandal grew out of. YOu may want to go back and read all of the news from 2009 when this happened. Sory that you were not paying more attention to what actually transpired at the time. It was dirty, period.

tomcasey
-2
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tomcasey 08/30/11 - 04:41 pm
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In the end 100 million or 110

In the end 100 million or 110 million after costs over runs and the like add another 10 to 20 million...

So the City an County built a convention complex on land it doesn't even own. So William Morris owns the land and will be paid to operate the building on his land.

Is there any caveat in all this antics protecting the city county taxpayers investment? Seems to me Mr. Morris got one sweetheart deal?

tomcasey
-2
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tomcasey 08/30/11 - 04:43 pm
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Is Augusta Richmond County

Is Augusta Richmond County giving money away?

I think Augusta would be better to build on its ability to attract tourists instead of conventions, just because you have to book convention space so far in advance.

kellydew05
0
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kellydew05 08/30/11 - 05:39 pm
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I agree with tomcasey!

I agree with tomcasey! Augusta needs to seriously look into increasing their tourism. It's great to have a brand new, fancy convention center, but why would anyone come? We have some great restaurants on Broad Street, but it's not enough. We need something like King Street in Charleston, and Broad Street is the perfect spot for that! We're already spending tons of money, we could offer tax incentives or something to stores to get them to come and open on Broad. Make it an appealing city. A convention center alone won't do the trick.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/30/11 - 06:27 pm
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Augusta averages around 1.5

Augusta averages around 1.5 million visitors per year.. The conventions held at the TEE center will help increase tourism. The US Cycling Championships held recently and other events are increasing the tourism. If you really want to increase tourism build the proposed baseball stadium, residential, restaurant, etc development on the river. I think adding light rail, bicycle lanes, electric cars, and greenspace would make downtown even more appealing..

The city of Augusta set a hotel revenue record in 2008, 2009, and 2010. A 3% growth rate in 2009 and 5.5% rate last year. Through July of 2010 the hotel revenue was 12% higher than last year.. The estimated hotel revenue back in 2009 was $60 million. Events similar to the Westobou(100k to 200k people) and Arts in the Heart(over 70k) are bringing additonal tourist into the city.

KellyDew.. I noticed this is your first time commenting on the Augusta Chronicle.. You're probably new to Augusta and don't know about the ongoing/planned construction along Broad street..

The $3 million 13th to 5th street streetlight/sidewalk/traffic siganl project is underway, 180-190 camera project from 13th to 5th is starting soon, 967 Broad has four new apts, Tantra Lounge is underway in the Whites Building, 566 Broad street is under construction(either residential or residential/commercial space), S4 Lounge is opening at 952 Broad, Bar 544 is opening at 544 Broad, Just Essentials opened at 956 Broad, Killer B Disc Golf is opening soon at 863 Broad, and Downtown Barroom is coming to 877 Broad St. Construction is underway at 565 Broad(probably commercial)and 586 Broad(commercial or commercial/residential)..

The Sprint Food & Metro Market( renovation of the belk warehouse next to Augusta common, Sprint home offices and other tenants on the 1st floor, 2nd floor 'urban market' restaurant/convenience store, open air seating) is under construction and will have a domino effect on Lower Broad..

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 07:03 pm
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countyman.. you simply do not

countyman.. you simply do not know what you are talking about and you obviously have not been following the whole TEE Center saga over the past 5 years. $38 million is the total cost of of just the TEE center building... that is a full $18 million more than what voters where told in the splost package what it would cost..the parking deck was scaled back to $12 million from $17 million, so my numbers are only off by $5million.. but that's an additional $12 million on top of the $38 million right there. Then don't forget the operating subsidy of $17.5 million spread out over 50 years. The city will pay Morris' company $350,000 per year to cover operating losses.. you see even Morris' company knows the facility will lose money, so they have their bases covered. They get all the benefits from having the facility adjacent to their hotel while assuming no risk.. in fact they are getting paid by the city to run the facility.. sweet gig, eh. So let's add all of these numbers up shall we: New Cost of Tee Center bldg: $38 million + Cost of TEE center parking deck: $12 million + Operating subsidy: $17.5 million = $67.5 million (actual cost of the entire TEE Center project versus the $22.5 million pitched to voters in the splost ballot.. that means the TEE Center is cost 3 times what voters were told it would cost.. and that is not counting on the additional $37.5 million tacked on for Laney Walker to get the crucial yes vote for approving the operating subsidy for Morris' company to run the facility and build it on his property. once you add that to the mix.. we are talking $105 million in all in associated spending for this boondoggle. Those are the facts. Ignore them all you want but they are indisputable, Those are the actual numbers. Oh and wasn't one of the big selling points for rushing to approve this bloated TEE center was because downtown would get a new Hyatt Place hotel out of it? We are all still waiting on that one. This was one of the biggest shams ever to be pulled over on Augusta taxpayers. And add on top of that a bribery scandal where David Fry tried to get two commissioners to switch their votes by promising lucrative benefits in the parking deck. If we wanted to rehab Laney Walker we could have done so for a lot cheaper than what this is costing and with a lot more transparency. And exactly how much is it costing to build these houses in Laney Walker and how much will they realistically be able to sell for.. that's a whole other investigation right there. It also might be interesting to know who owned the land where the parking deck is being built. Follow the money

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 07:53 pm
0
0
Kelly and Tom, that's my

Kelly and Tom, that's my point.. Augusta can draw in tourism dollars with the right strategy. Events like Iron Man, Westobou and Arts in The Heart are winners. They bring in thousands of tourists annually spending millions of dollars.. yet they cost the city very little money..in fact the city is compensated for the extra police, etc. Now imagine what we could have done with all of this money being spent on the TEE Center. For a small fraction of its cost we could have constructed a world class white water course on the third level of the canal.. something that Andy Cheek brought up years ago... Imagine what events that could draw to Augusta on an annual basis not to mention just the avid kayakers travelling here to use the course. We could have constructed a greenway like North Augusta, and a permanent festival pavillion for events like Westobou and Arts in the heart. The city could have even worked on sponsoring new festivals like a Film Festival.. Dahlonega has had great success with its film festival. So many things that could be done that would have far greater payoff but instead the city puts all of its eggs in one basket on something that has been proven to be a loser.. convention business is down everywhere.. all this money being spent on something that is shrinking, not expanding with a glut of empty space on the market. Once again, this city has its priorities all screwed up. Things that do have a big impact get virtually nothing from the city whereas the city continues to throw tax money into moneypits like convention centers, etc.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/31/11 - 02:52 pm
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Lol.. I guess my 7:27 post

Lol.. I guess my 7:27 post shared too much positive information.. Convention centers are located in every thriving city in the US.

Emeraydan.. I didn't respond to your 5:06 comment, and I don't know why you felt the need to repeat the same thing in your 8:03 post..

The cost of the parking deck was never $17 million. Back in 2009 they estimated it might cost between $12-$17 million to build. The final cost came in at $10 million(4 floors & 450 spaces)and went to $12.2 million when the additional two floors and 200 spaces were added..

The same people who complain about the baseball stadium mix-use center, trolley, etc complained about the Ellis street canal proposed by Andy Cheek.. They called it a pie in the sky dream similar to what they call the proposed baseball stadium mix-use project. Some people are against anything that would transform Augusta. It takes visionary leadership and risk in order to create a vibrant CBD. I bet the same people would have been against the construction of the Riverwalk too.

Little Lamb
47853
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Little Lamb 08/30/11 - 09:12 pm
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countyman wrote: (P)eople . .

countyman wrote:

(P)eople . . . complain about the baseball stadium mix-use center. . . . I bet the same people would have been against the construction of the Riverwalk too.

Comparing Riverwalk to the Ripken stadium (yes, and the "mix-use" center, condominium, restaurants, etc., etc.) is comparing apples to brussel sprouts. Riverwalk is a city park. It is open to all. There is no cost. No tax dollars are siphoned to private business owners. The baseball stadium would be a transfer (a gratuity) of tax dollars to a well-connected business owner (Ripken). And then entrance to the stadium would require ticket payments to Ripken. And Ripken would not have to pay any property taxes.

Ripken stadium is a rip-off of us taxpayers.

Little Lamb
47853
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Little Lamb 08/30/11 - 09:17 pm
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countyman wrote: It takes

countyman wrote:

It takes visionary leadership and risk in order to create a vibrant CBD.

There is no risk for Copenhaver, a lame-duck mayor. There is no risk for Ripken, for he gets a gift. The only risk is for the taxpayers, who will have to learn to do without something they need while sacrificing their property tax and or sales tax and or "creative financing" tax to the Ripken altar.

Riverman1
90136
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Riverman1 08/30/11 - 09:26 pm
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"I guess my 7:27 post shared

"I guess my 7:27 post shared too much positive information.. Convention centers are located in every thriving city in US."

Keyword...Thriving. Think Augusta is?

Riverman1
90136
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Riverman1 08/30/11 - 09:30 pm
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I'm starting to like the idea

I'm starting to like the idea of the TEE. We can use it for a boathouse for those who like to row and kayak. Maybe use part of it for an indoor firing range so you can stay competent with your self protection pistol.

Riverman1
90136
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Riverman1 08/30/11 - 09:36 pm
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These convention centers are

These convention centers are such a good way to draw thousands of people with millions of dollars and all you have to do is construct a building. I'm going to tell the folks in Wrens. They can get in on this too.

Little Lamb
47853
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Little Lamb 08/30/11 - 09:55 pm
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Hey, RM, the people in Wrens

Hey, RM, the people in Wrens did build a building. It's just east of Hwy. 1 and south of town. It is called "Commerce Park" or something like that. All they need to do is advertise it as a convention center and they will be in the money again! "Commerce Park" is surrounded by a soybean field on the north and west sides and a pine forest on the south and east. It is a perfect setting for a convention.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/30/11 - 09:58 pm
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Augusta probably leads the

Augusta probably leads the entire southeast in the number of national rankings. Named ''highly skilled immigrant destination'' by Brookings. Top Ten Incredibly Pro-Business Communities, 10 Cities Unaffected by a Bad Economy, and one of Brooking's top performing cities since 2009. The 7th best place to live in 2011(RelocateAmerica). Ranked 9th in the number of corporate expansions in the year 2010(Site Selection: metros 200k-1million) is thriving.. Several things do need to improve to make Augusta even better including the education system, public transportation, crime rate, and politics. Augusta can use additional buses, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks.. The city needs to build a larger arena(17k-22k), performing arts center, a large park in the CBD, skateboard/bmx park,

Please read the list of new things coming to Broad street alone.. The Village Riverwatch, FPL Foods $3 million expansion 100 jobs, Augusta Newsprint $55 million expansion, Potash $40 milllion expansion, Bennett International $35 million 15 jobs, DSM Chemicals purchasing the former 40 acre Pfizer plant, Algae facility $10 million initial investment and 200 jobs, Electrolux $2.5 million and over 300 jobs, 18k sq. ft. Cherry street shopping center, Hampton Inn hotel, Affordable Suites of America, etc are all underway.

Riverman1
90136
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Riverman1 08/30/11 - 10:01 pm
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LL, here I was making a joke

LL, here I was making a joke about Wrens and they could end up landing national conventions or something when our $100 million one will be a boathouse. Napa Valley, CA maybe have vineyards for scenery, but Wrens has soybean fields.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/30/11 - 10:13 pm
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Riverman.. I responded to you

Riverman.. I responded to you comment in your previous post.. It's my turn to ask you a couple of question.. What do you call a city with one of the fastest growing airports in the country? What word describes a city where the hotel revenuE continues to grow during the recession??

The 24% growth rate last year at AGS resulted in a new passenger record. As of June 2011 the airport had a 19% growth rate compared to 2010. The airport is on pace to set another passenger record this year. Direct flights to New York and DC are coming in the near future..

The city of Augusta set a hotel revenue record in 2008, 2009, and 2010. A 3% growth rate in 2009 and 5.5% rate last year. As of July 2010 the hotel revenue was 12% higher than last year.. The Hampton Inn located in South Augusta(Gordon Hwy) and the Affordable Suites of America(Wheeler rd) in West Augusta are both under construction.. The groundbreaking for the 124 Residence Inn(Marriott) will soon take place at 1110 Marks Church rd.

Little Lamb
47853
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Little Lamb 08/30/11 - 10:15 pm
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Hey, I'm serious about

Hey, I'm serious about "Commerce Park." It is a real building. If we can figure out a way to meet for lunch at Little Dutch restaurant south of Wrens, I'll take you to Commerce Park. You have to be prepared to drive down a dirt road, though.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 08/30/11 - 10:16 pm
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Riverman.. Wrens doesn't

Riverman.. Wrens doesn't need a convention center. They already have Marvin's Chevron and Miss Peggy's.. and the little dutch house.. plenty of reasons already to visit Wrens

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 08/30/11 - 10:45 pm
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Countyman, you can lay claim

Countyman, you can lay claim to Augusta hotel stats because they are in Augusta; but don't crow about AGS. The passenger rates there come from all over the CSRA and it is largely due to competitive fares that make it less attractive to drive to Atlanta or Columbia. Not to mention, the leisure traveler ain't coming out of East or South Augusta. I don't know of a way to prove it, but if I could I would bet you sight unseen that a disproportionate (meaning air travelers/ population unit) come from outside ARC.

countyman
21242
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countyman 08/31/11 - 12:47 pm
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Vito45... If the airport

Vito45... If the airport travelers aren't coming from South Augusta and East Augusta. Then add Grovetown, Harlem, Appling, Graniteville, Clearwater, New Ellenton, Thomson, Waynesboro, and Edgefield to the list. The Augusta airport should be used by the entire metro and CSRA.. I'm glad the residents of Evans and Martinez are driving to Atlanta's Hartsfield airport less than previous years. I'm hoping additional people living in Aiken/Edgefield choose Augusta before Columbia. The completion of the Palmetto Pkwy/I-520 was a great step in the right direction. Aikena & Edgefield counties are included in the Augusta MSA and not Columbia's. If the extremely fast growth rate at the airport continues.. All of the future companies/industry that will flock here won't located in Richmond County.. The growth rate at AGS helps the entire metro and CSRA.

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 08/30/11 - 11:23 pm
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My point is that your

My point is that your cheerleading for Augusta proper should not include AGS. Take away ColCo and AikenCo. and it would still be the backwater airport it used to be. I'm thrilled it is doing well and I'm amazed that every time I fly the parking lot is jammed. The last time I had to park in the overflow because the regular lot had ZIP, and this was on a Thursday. It is nice to see that progress, I just don't want you ascribing it to ARC when in fact (IMO) it is the business traveler and more affluent leisure traveler outside of ARC that is making that difference.

All the same, I still root for Augusta to get new industry and jobs because it IS the anchor city for the area. If Augusta is prosperous, then the surrounding areas will benefit from it.

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