City Council hears about FairPlex proposal

By Martin Couch

With a special county-wide special election to be called on Aug. 10, Benton Advertising and Promotion Committee member Alan Jessup spoke at the Bryant Cith Council meeting Thursday about the proposed FairPlex that will temporarily increase the tax base in the county by one cent for the next five to seven years.

“Two and half years ago we set on this course to get to where we are today,” Jessup said. “Our primary goal is to promote a comprehensive development, create recreational facilities and increase the economic growth in the county.”[more]

According to Jessup, the FairPlex would create 830 full-time jobs as it is being built, and 330 of those jobs will remain after it is built. During its construction, he added, 570 of those 830 jobs will be in Saline County and of those permanent jobs after the structure is built will generate 110 to 150 more jobs in Bryant alone.

“It will cost $4.3 million to build and $1.6 million on an annual basis with the ongoing tax to maintain yearly until the bonds are paid off,” Jessup said. “It will bolster the state through tourism as a terrific destination for equestrians and it creates another emergency shelter for Saline County.”

The FairPlex is also expected to bring in retail centers, restaurants, and a hotel with a convention center. It is provided for equestrian events, which is the second largest industry, as well as providing a sporting venue for Arkansas Activities Association championship games and matches. However, those are only a few of the many benefits that will come from the complex, Jessup says.

“There will be revenue sources in ticket sales, parking and other sponsorships,” he said. “It has multiple uses and the arena will be able to accommodate upwards of 7,500 people at once, which will bring in high school graduations for Bryant and Benton that now take place in Little Rock, concerts and rodeos as well as it’s a 165 percent larger area than the existing Saline County Fair.”

A qualitative benefit that Jessup mentioned was the FairPlex would improve the quality of life and diversify the market share as well as augmenting Saline County as an area for tourists and sporting events. It will capitalize on tourism throughout the state and is a catalyst for economic growth with industry benefitting the area.

“My 10-year-old son said the other day after he read the brochure, he didn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t support this – they get paid back,” Jessup said. “Governor (Mike) Beebe said it all benefits Arkansas and I believe it is truly an economic development opportunity for Saline County.”

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