ZMC Hotels brings Hampton to the Range

Brian Arola

A snapshot of the progress on the new Hibbing Hampton Inn and Suites.

Editor’s note: This is the final profile of 10 economic development projects of the “Hibbing Good to Grow” campaign.

HIBBING — Word on the street for years was that a hotel was coming, and would locate on or near the vicinity of the former Ogle’s Family Foods store site.

But year after year, and after more than one developer, the news faded. It never came to fruition, leaving many Hibbingites disappointed and negative.

“I won’t believe it until I see it,” became the word on the street.

That was until a couple of months ago, when the former Ogle’s building was demolished. The site near the intersection of Highway 169 and Newberg Road was eventually prepped.

Today the three-story, 78-room structure is taking shape.

Hibbing Hampton Inn and Suites is happening, and people now believe.

“It is wonderful to be opening another hotel in our home state of Minnesota, so close to our offices in Duluth,” said Todd Torvinen of ZMC Hotels. “We have many employees from Hibbing that are happy to be able to go home and stay in the hotel.”

Hibbing Hampton Inn and Suites is the final economic development project to be profiled in the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Committee’s “Hibbing Good to Grow” campaign. The awareness campaign highlights current economic development efforts to show that Hibbing is a community worth investing in and one residents should want to be invested in.

The project makes up just a portion of the $51 million of new development scheduled to take place in Hibbing in 2014.

ZMC Hotels is the second developer involved in the project.

“When we found out that the previous project had stalled, we met with the mayor, city clerk and city administrator to try and get the project on track. They along with the IRRRB have been instrumental in getting this project moving as quickly as possible to have a hotel that can be ready for the hockey season in winter 2015,” said Torvinen. “Hibbing citizens should know and be proud that they have such a great time in their city officials to get this to fruition.”

The hotel — a $10 million investment — is anticipated to welcome its first guests in January 2015.

•••

Here are more details:

• What was the impetus or motivation for the project?

The motivation was a need for improved hotel product in Hibbing due to the new businesses and the older dated hotel stock. New hotels are needed first as an economic development tool to get new businesses to locate in an area. The city officials recognized this need and led a charge to get a hotel development started at the old Ogles Family Foods location that had a blighted closed store that was hurting the mall as the left bookend.

• How much is the company investing in this project, thus into our community?

The ending costs for this hotel project will be just over $10 million.

• Are jobs created by this project?

We expect to have 15 to 20 full-time employees during various times of occupancy during the year. In addition to this, there will be about 30 full-time construction related jobs during the eight-month construction period.

• What types of jobs will you be hiring for?

We will be looking for a number of various employees: general manager, front desk manager and clerks, maintenance, room attendants, laundry workers.

• What is your total current employment?

In Minnesota, about 600 employees. Nationwide, about 1,200.

• Are there any additional community benefits/significance to this project?

There are multiple benefits to this project, including:

* A new hotel which keeps Hibbing from exporting nightly out-of-town visitors/doctors/business people from driving to Virginia or Grand Rapids for better hotel rooms.

* It will improve local economic development when national businesses looking to expand realize there is a Hilton hotel in Hibbing.

* This will drive additional food and beverage outlets in the immediate area. We have reserved a restaurant pad on our property for a new outlet.

* The project removed the closed Ogle Family Foods grocery store that was a blight anchor to Irongate Plaza since 1990. This should help to improve mall traffic and new retailers willing to locate and invest there.

* We are working with city officials and in the very infancy stages to develop a Hibbing Event Center somewhere within Irongate Plaza. That has things left to be determined, but we feel could benefit.

* Although the project used TIF (tax increment financing) and its tax base will go to infrastructure build-out initially, once this expires that base will be used as city tax base as well as other development that occurs from it. It will create $150,000 in state sales taxes and $75,000 a year in new lodging taxes.

* In terms of economic spinoff, as they say, each hotel visitor spends about $75 to $100 in additional expenditure in a community above the lodging costs and this at $90 a day would equate to about another $1,950,000 being spent in Hibbing annually that is currently going elsewhere.

• What is the projected timeline of the project?

We intend to be open in January 2015.

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