One year has passed and construction for Wilmington's Convention Center continues, when many projects nationwide have collapsed along with the economy. Progress on the site is a sigh of relief for Wilmington’s Constantina Sears. “We've already started lets not stop midway,” she said. Sears is looking forward to the possibilities the new venue will bring. “There's going to be so much more influx of people coming in to our community that our businesses are going to start booming.” But can convention center construction survive the recession? Project Manager, Steve Bridges, said it is still scheduled to be ready by spring 2010, featuring a four-story parking deck, which is currently being built, and a six-story hotel. Room occupant tax from area hotels is paying for the $60 million project. That is why Bridges said there is no need for people to worry about the project falling through. Critics of the convention center said that construction should stop on the project and the money should go towards other things in our area's ailing economy, but city leaders said that is not possible. “This money cannot be used for anything but to construct, operate and manage a convention center. That's what the North Carolina legislators set it up to be. And it's the only way that the city of Wilmington can use this particular money,” Bridges said. Although the company that will run the convention center said the recession has caused low attendance at some of its other venues, Bridges expects the economy will get better once the convention center is open. “That's what we're thinking. By the time we're opening, we're hoping the new president can turn the economy up and roaring again.” The city said it is already receiving inquires from people interested in using the convention center for everything from corporate meetings to ballroom dancing.
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