Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger has been tasked with determining whether to build a convention center in the area between San Antonio and Austin, Texas.
“Everybody kept saying we needed our own convention or conference center,” Klaeger said. “Horseshoe Bay with the resort gets a lot of conferences, and we began to wonder what we may be missing out on if conferences looked at us but didn’t see a place they could hold their events.”
Representatives and chambers of commerce from Burnet County and the cities of Marble Falls and Burnet earlier this year pooled funds to hire PKF Consulting to consider the economic development of a facility.
“PKF has been out here several times to talk to people and businesses to get an idea about what they are thinking and possible needs,” said Bill Rives, executive director, Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce. “And now, we’re at the step that [PKF] is doing a survey.”
Emailed to members of the Burnet and Marble Falls chambers, a survey is being used to gauge community need and interest for construction of a convention center.
“We really hope people will take advantage of the survey and give some feedback,” said Kim Winkler, executive director, Burnet Chamber of Commerce. “The survey is to give the consulting group an idea of what businesses and others are looking for in a conference or convention center. Or if they think there is a need for one at all.”
According to Judge Klaeger, nearby Horseshoe Bay Resort has the capacity to hold a larger conference. A Burnet County facility, therefore, could cater to smaller groups of 400-500 rather than directly compete with the existing resort.
“We would be finding our own niche,” she said.
Christian Fletcher, director, Marble Falls Economic Development Corp., explained that local hotels and motels experience high occupancy during weekends from April to Labor Day, yet weekdays and fall and winter season see little activity.
“[D]uring the week, traffic is kind of light because we’re not known as a destination for business travel. So if you look at the feasibility of a conference center, you would help bridge that gap,” Fletcher said.
Officials believed that attendees may return to visit the area with their families following attendance of a meeting, conference or convention, further boosting economic impact.
The survey will gauge size and scope of a possible convention and conference center from businesses, chamber members and others.
“We don’t get to see who answered and how they answered, that stays with PKF,” Klaeger stated. “But through the survey, we learn if there’s a need and what type. We also get an idea of where to locate it. That’s one of the other questions. If we do decide this is feasible, where do we put it? We’re still early in the whole process, but the first step is getting input.”