MEDC planning to launch hotel feasibility study

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Fearing visitors to Mineola are leaving the city to find lodging elsewhere, the Mineola Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) intends to launch a feasibility study aimed at determining whether the city needs more hotel beds.

MEDC will engage Source Strategies Inc. of San Antonio at a cost expected to run $7,000 to $8,000, according to Mercy Rushing, executive director of MEDC. After the contract is signed, the study is expected to take four to six weeks to complete, she said.

The point of the study is to answer these questions: Is Mineola losing lodging business to other cities? Does it need more hotel beds? The MEDC Board of Directors was informed of the study during an Oct. 3 meeting.

The only operating hotel in Mineola is the Best Western Mineola Inn. Mineola also has two guest houses, Muzesheimer Manor and Brooks House Suites. The Relax Inn, a budget motel, also operates in the city.

Mineola isn’t the only Wood County community eying a possible hotel. The Wood County Monitor reported on Sept. 26 that Denea Hudman, executive director of the Quitman Economic Development Corp., is trying to line up a $15 million hotel project at an undisclosed site in or around Quitman.

Still, the biggest siphon of hospitality dollars appears to be nearby Lindale.

Lindale is “going and blowing with more hotels,” Rushing remarked.

“And I think we keep sending them business,” said Ken Pearson, a member of the MEDC board.

“That’s what’s happening, absolutely,” replied Rushing.

Lindale, with its close proximity to Tyler and Interstate 20, has numerous mid-market and economy hotel brands, including Hampton Inn, Comfort Suites, Best Western, La Quinta, America’s Best Value and Motel 6.

Anecdotal evidence, such as rising hotel-motel tax revenue, points to a need for more beds in Mineola, according to Rushing.

“I’ve had so many citizens come and ask me, ‘When is Mineola going to get another hotel?’ This (the study) is the first step,” she said. “This is where we need to go; otherwise the hotels aren’t going to talk to us if we don’t have anything to show them.”

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