SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp visited Savannah Wednesday to help break-ground on the expansion of the Savannah Convention Center.
Governor Kemp had three overarching messages. First, he says the expansion here, is huge.
Officials say it should pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy in coming years. The governor dug the ceremonial shovel along with other local and city leaders.
Second, Governor Kemp says the timing of this is critical. He says the fact they were able to secure a project of this size during a pandemic is unheard of.
Finally, Kemp says this project will be a job-maker. He says that’s big for a service industry that has been devastated by COVID.
Kemp says it’s a sign, of hope.
“To me, that’s what this signals. there’s so much hope with this expansion of this facility. so much hope in this city and this area of our state. I’ve been so proud to work with people down here on the ground. I’m just very optimistic,” said Gov. Kemp.
Kemp says the project, which has been years in the making, couldn’t have come at a better time.
“There has been no tougher industry hit by the COVID pandemic than tourism, hospitality and our service industry. That does not go unnoticed by me, and that’s another reason this is such a great day.”
Soon, the convention center will add a 100,000 square-foot exhibit hall, a new ballroom, meeting spaces, and 900 new parking spots.
Savannah Mayor Van Jonson says the expansion will allow the city to host even larger events.
“Simply put, that means more green. and I think green is a pretty good color. what do you think,” said Mayor Johnson.
Chairman Chester Ellis says the county projects this expansion could bring in as much as $1.4 billion-dollars for the local economy. Ellis credits the state’s willingness to get a deal done.
“Governor Kemp, we want to thank you for being a great partner in the upcoming development. I cannot wait until the first shovel turns over,” said Ellis.
“Chairman, I’m just wondering when the ribbon cutting is going to be,” said Kemp.