Blair could soon be home to a new hotel if all the pieces fall into place.

Last week, the Blair City Council approved $400,000 in LB 840 funds for Sai Properties V Inc. of Omaha to build a Holiday Inn Express.

The Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB 840) authorizes incorporated cities and villages to collect and appropriate local tax dollars — sales and/or property tax — if approved by the local voters, for economic development purposes.

But this was just the first step in the process to finance the project, which is expected to cost between $7.5 million and $8.5 million. Construction is anticipated to begin this spring.

To help finance the project, the developer is also seeking tax increment financing (TIF) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) reuse funds to make the project viable. If one of these falls through, the project will likely not happen.

The city staff and city council need to do what they can to ensure this project moves forward. The city has CDBG reuse funds it must use by July 1. Creating a TIF district will take some time, but it is possible.

This is a much needed asset for Blair. Not only would it provide options for families when relatives come to visit and businesses in town who need a place for employees to stay, it would mean more jobs.

A 68- to 75-room hotel would employ 20 to 25 people, 10 of whom would be full time, according to Mike Rooks, executive director of Gateway Development Corp.

It would also keep money here in Blair and Washington County. With very few options, people choose to stay in Omaha and thus spend their money there rather than in Blair.

Development often spurs more development. If the city wants to see continued growth, this project needs happen.

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