New KSU Hotel & Conference Center Project to Create Jobs, Economic Growth

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor A new, $15.6 million Kent State University project will bring a hotel and conference center to downtown Kent and create hundreds of jobs, and spur regional tourism growth and economic development. The Kent State University Foundation, The Pizzuti Cos. of Columbus, the city of Kent, the Development Fund of the [...]

A new, $15.6 million Kent State University project will bring a hotel and conference center to downtown Kent and create hundreds of jobs, and spur regional tourism growth and economic development. The Kent State University Foundation, The Pizzuti Cos. of Columbus, the city of Kent, the Development Fund of the Western Reserve (DFWR), which is controlled by the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, and the Finance Fund are partners in the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center project.

The new hotel will have 95 rooms. It is part of a larger $100 million redevelopment project that will bring retail, offices and residences to downtown Kent. With a total student enrollment of more than 41,000, KSU is now the second-largest public university in Ohio, attracting thousands of campus visitors each year. Joel Pizzuti, president of The Pizzuti Cos., expects the new hotel to have a significant impact on the local economy. The developers also expect Kent- and Akron-area employers to hold conferences and other special events in the new 5,400-square-foot, 300-seat ballroom/conference center.

The project is being financed with the help of a unique public/private partnership that includes $9 million from the Finance Fund ($8 million in federal and $1 million in state New Markets Tax Credits), and $6.5 million from the DFWR. It will necessitate 430 construction jobs during construction and 42 permanent jobs when the project is finished. All of this in a community with a 29 percent poverty rate. The hotel is expected to open in spring 2013.

“This project hits all of our hot buttons,” said Finance Fund CEO James Klein. “It drives jobs and economic development, as well as spillover benefits, as it provides education for students building skills for future employment.”

Image courtesy of KSU.