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On July 17-19, AIBA asked members what they thought about the proposed expansion of the Convention Center. AIBA has always been the advocate for local business in Austin and we ask our members' opinions when the direction isn't apparently clear. As usual, local business spoke out clearly and difinitively about this issue. Read the results and comments here.
 
89% voted against expanding the Convention Center.
 
Following is the text introduction to the survey:
In order to better represent the local business community, we need to know where you stand on this issue. This is a complicated issue, so to help you consider this, we've pulled together a few bullet points and some links to more information. 
  • The Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds collected are expected to be $92 million this year and projected to reach $100 million next year.
  • 80% of these funds go to the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB—recently renamed Visit Austin).
  • Only 2% of Austin's visitors attend a convention at the Convention Center and SXSW accounts for one third of those.
  • Visit Austin claims that the expansion is needed to compete for larger conventions but SOS Alliance claims that the convention industry is flat and not expanding.
  • The Convention Center lost $24.3 million in 2016.
  • The expansion is projected to cost $600 million but does not include land purchases, lost property taxes or Convention Center loses.
  • The appropriation of the HOT funds has little to do with the expansion of the Convention Center. 
 
Additional information can be found in the Austin American Statesman's article, the Mayor's Press Release and the SOS Alliance Fact Sheet.
 
In full disclosure, AIBA has been petitioning the City Council to appropriate .5% of the HOT funds to create programs with local business for tourism. The impact of local business on tourism in undeniable yet local business does not benefit from the funds generated by visitors to our city. Local business is the creator of our local vibe, culture and local experience and should be recognized as such.