Leaders come together to break ground on Oboro convention center - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Breaking ground on Owensboro's future

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OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) -

Three years after the Executive Inn came tumbling down the city of Owensboro is taking reservations for conventions once again.

City leaders were on hand to break ground for the new $36M Convention Center. Construction on the 169,000 sq. ft. building will start on April 1.

"There's an excitement in this city I haven't seen in my lifetime. We're capturing the attention of the entire country,"  said Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne.

Denark Construction says they'll use 175 workers on-site to build the facility.

"People see we are serious, OK? We're here shoveling dirt, doing a groundbreaking. We're serious. These things are going to happen. We're no longer talking about them. We've quite doing studies; we're building things," said Mayor Payne.

Independence Bank is financing the new hotel and plans to host the first event once the center opens.

"It only made sense for the first opening for us, to celebrate with our employees that we do every year for Christmas. To have that celebration to be the first event at the convention center, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Darrell Higginbotham with Independence Bank.

The construction of the convention center will also bring a hotel to downtown. Malcolm Bryant with  Malcolm Bryant Corp. said although the market for a hotel may not be there now, Owensboro needs it.

"We're creating a destination site that's down here, and that's going to be beyond anything we really see on the Ohio River," said Bryant.

Hotel construction will begin this week. We're told a crane is on the way to get to work.

Both the hotel and convention center are scheduled to open in late 2013. A firefighter training event is already on the books for 2015.

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