A celebration was held Thursday to recognize five years in business for the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront hotel. The seven-story, 150-room hotel opened for business on Jan. 31, 2014, and has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor from 463 traveler reviews.
Nearly every speaker who attended the celebration took time to thank Malcolm and Sally Bryant of The Malcolm Bryant Corporation for their hard work in making the vision of The Hampton Inn Suites happen for downtown Owensboro. President Madison Silvert told the crowd that nearly 187,000 guests had walked through the Hampton Inn doors over the last five years.
Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, pushed those in the crowd to continue bettering Owensboro by dreaming even bigger.
“Owensboro has this really unique and cool way of coming together, right at the times we need to make great things happen,” Brake said. “Everyone works together. But let’s start making it, not the next five years, but let’s start moving things every five months. Where we know that, in five months, we’re going to have another big groundbreaking.”
Mark Calitri spoke about the Visit Owensboro’s strong relationship with Spectra and the Owensboro Convention Center, and said that while Owensboro’s last five years was a success story, they were just the tip of a larger, economic iceberg.
“When you look at this beautiful hotel, a lot of people just see this great property here on the riverfront, but what we see is an economic engine that’s going to increase economic impact through all of Owensboro. That’s what we see,” Calitri said.
Calitri said that the last five years have been successful, but the future looks even brighter.
“2020 is looking to be very promising here in Owensboro. 2021 is even better and 2022 should be a record-breaking year. Great last five years–more importantly, we’ve got the future, and it looks great,” Calitri said.
Silvert credited Mayor Tom Watson for having a hand in Owensboro’s economic development from the very beginning.
“The downtown master plan was adopted while Mayor Watson was mayor his first time. That often gets forgotten because so much progress has happened since then,” Silvert said. “But that was a big risk for the city too, to go out and create a whole vision, and they did that.”
Mayor Watson reflected back on the struggles he’d run into while trying to find funding for The Hampton Inn. Watson said that, sometimes, in order to make something great happen, you have to ask for help.
To get funding for The Hampton Inn, Watson and his colleagues ended up asking Gov. Ernie Fletcher for money that’d been set aside in the state’s transportation budget for other cities. Fletcher came down and presented them with a check for $28 million.
“Had that not happened, we probably would still be breaking ground down here,” Watson said.” I think it’s important to understand that building relationships is so critical to a community our size. Once those two projects got going, it was kind of a catalyst for the rest of the investment, for the private sector to take shape.”
“In the five years that followed [the grand openings], every place I go, when somebody finds out I’m from Owensboro, they talk about the amazing things this community has done,” Daviess County Fiscal Court Judge Executive Al Mattingly said. “I think our community is full of dreamers, and full of planners, and full of doers.”
Silvert ended the celebration with a passionate speech that paid tribute to the members of Owensboro’s community and their desire to aim for, not good changes, but great changes.
“In 2007, our community stepped up and said, ‘Let’s redevelop downtown, and, if we’re going to do something, let’s do it extremely well,’” Silvert said. “That’s exactly what’s still going on here today. This community continues to amaze me and, I hope, amaze you. Importantly, it amazes our children and makes it a place where they want to remain and come back to.”