Grounds to celebrate

The fine folks at the Brookings Institution said Tuesday Augusta has the seventh-most recession-resilient economy in the country.

After Wednesday, they may want to recheck their math.

Area leaders dug ceremonial shovelfuls Wednesday morning to officially break ground for a $38 million trade, exhibit and event center at 9th and Reynolds that will finally put the state's second-largest city onto the large trade show and convention circuit.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver noted some $340 million in ongoing construction projects downtown, including the TEE Center, new judicial center, new library, and Kroc recreational and social service center.

There will also be a new hotel springing up across Reynolds from the TEE Center. And Augusta Commissioner Don Grantham reminded the mayor of another $38 million to be spent in the Laney-Walker area from the special hotel room fee that is helping fund the TEE Center.

How many American cities can boast that much going on in this economy?

And if the ground was turned Wednesday, perhaps a corner was too. You may never have seen city officials here so upbeat or unified -- a scene made all the more remarkable by the fact that final approval of the TEE Center was the biggest political hurdle of the year last year.

Today, however, as new Commissioner Bill Lockett said, "We are one Augusta."

"The tone we're seeing set in Augusta right now is historic," added Commissioner Matt Aitken.

"This is a great day for Augusta," said Commissioner Alvin Mason, as others would repeat. "We're here to celebrate Augusta."

"We're on a roll," Aitken said.

Look around you. How many other places in the country can say that right now?

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