State officials approve funds for resort convention centerAGH cancer center, Believe in Tomorrow house also in Maryland budget this year
(March 31, 2017) State funding for a third phase of expansions at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City was included in the Maryland Capital Budget that received final senate approval on Wednesday.
One day earlier, the Maryland House of Delegates passed the state’s capital budget, which includes $500,000 for the convention center project, $681,000 for the Atlantic General Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center and $100,000 for the Ocean City Believe in Tomorrow Cottage By the Sea project.
Speaking on Wednesday following senate passage, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza (R-38C), praised Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan for his efforts to illustrate why state funding of the convention center project was in both parties’ interest.
“Mayor Meehan did a terrific job of testifying and making a strong case that the Ocean City convention enter is a revenue generator for the entire State of Maryland,” she said.
In November 2016, the City Council approved plans for a $34 million expansion of the convention center that would add 30,000 square feet of exhibition space on the first floor and a new business center, as well as an expanded meeting room and additional bathrooms on the second floor.
Ocean City estimates the Phase 3 expansion will increase annual attendee days by close to 200,000 and generate around 500 new full-time equivalent jobs. Additionally, the city estimates the expansion will produce from $47-$67 million in new spending, along with an estimated $2.5-$3.5 million in new state tax revenue.
“I believe the Phase 3 expansion will meet the growing needs of the existing major conventions and trade shows,” she said. “Plus, the expansion will allow more out-of-state conferences which need additional exhibit space to select the Ocean City Convention Center in the future.”
The design phase of the convention center project is slated to commence on May 1 and end on April 1, 2018.
Ocean City had requested $1.335 million in funding for the design phase of the project, but since that request came after the state’s 2018 operating budget was partially completed, Carozza and Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) introduced bond bills as a source of funding as part of the state’s capital budget.
Although the $500,000 is less than requested this year, Carozza said the capital budget includes additional funding for the next two fiscal years.
“I also am delighted that the capital budget includes $835,000 in pre-authorization funding for the 2018 session and $18.6 million for the 2019 session,” she said. “We will continue to work with Gov. Hogan and our colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly to keep this revenue-generating project as a priority in next year’s budget.”