What The Business Community Said

OCEAN CITY – Here are some of the things that were said both during and after the City Council’s decision to upgrade the Roland E. Powell Convention Center with the $10.4 million “Option A.”

“I think we need to do this right away, because we are hurting as a business community. Business in Ocean City has changed drastically in the winter. We need customers year round, the season is too short, and we can’t make it.”

Bill Gibbs, owner Dough Roller Restaurants

“Is it going to bring net gain, or is it going to make you work harder for more money to be able to just move money? People are treading water on the winter weekends, and a few more good weekends aren’t going to put you into the black, it’s just going to make the cash flow a little different. Unless you’ve got a net profit in your pocket, you are treading water.”

Councilman Joe Hall

“Joe, I know you’ve got your opinions on this, but I don’t know how researched they are or how founded they are. You were away for three weeks on vacation.”

Councilman Doug Cymek to fellow Councilman Joe Hall

“If it were to be assumed that the half percent food tax pays the principal and interest, the additional new tax revenues generated by the facility itself would cover the operating deficit.”

City Engineer Terry McGean

“All of the expense of staffing at a performing arts center is done by the promoter, so the theory of any show, is that the promoter takes all the risk of bringing that show in. You will have very little expenses other than cleaning the building.”

Tourism Director Mike Noah

“A performing arts center is way overdue, and we should have been having this conversation years ago.” Fager’s Island owner John Fager

“Every time a restaurant got torn down and a condo went up five years ago, people said where am I going to eat. If people can’t stay open year-round because there is no events, people will have to go out of town to eat. We have to ask is this good for the town, and I believe it’s a good thing for the town, and I think it will generate more year round business, and will drive people to Ocean City.” Councilman Lloyd Martin

“In my industry, surf movies are really popular, and I’m surprised that Ocean City is always excluded from the venues because there isn’t a good venue to get families to come and see these movies. When there are events at the convention center, our business significantly jumps, especially in the winter.”

K-Coast Surf Shop co-owner Chris Shanahan

“You have the opportunity to get an auditorium that would be conducive to having current entertainers come and play in Ocean City, and not just ones that are on their way out or down. The 20,000 square feet facilitates the rehab and rebirth of old ballroom to something that current performers would be willing to come and play in, and it’s vital that we do that.”

Seacrets owner Leighton Moore

“You know that we are the biggest group that comes down here, but times are tough, but we don’t want to leave Ocean City. Ladies and gentleman, we want to work with you and we want to be a part of what you are going to do with this convention center, and we will help anyway we can.”

Maryland State Firemen’s Association President Frank Underwood

“I have heard on numerous occasions that more people would be down here if there was more to do in the winter. These businesses that are open in the winter time deserve our help, and they need it now, not later.”

Realtor Peck Miller

“It improves the quality of life for the people that live here year-round so they don’t have to travel to see a top notch show. In the summer, we’ve got the beach and the Boardwalk, and in the winter, we’ve got convention hall, so this decision was a necessity.”

BJ’s owner Billy Carder.

“You’ve got to cut taxes where you can, and we have the opportunity here by cutting it a half percent. At first, I was not in favor of this project, but I think this is the right time to do it.”

Castle in the Sand hotel owner Adam Showell

“Arts and Tourism go hand in hand, and this is a rare fleeting opportunity to pass something that will improve the quality of life and promote economic development.”

Developer Palmer Gillis

“When you have a business and you don’t change anything, or you don’t offer new venues or leave the convention center the same every year, you sink. You can only tread water for so long, and there’s a point where you either move or you die.”

Restaurateur and hotelier John Fager

“We need it now, just like we needed a stimulus, we need it now.”

Local business owner Al Wendling

“Three years ago, we weren’t losing money in the winter, we weren’t making it, but we weren’t losing it. We’ve had to lay people off here lately, and winters are getting rough and it’s getting serious. I’m officially going on record saying help us please.”

Restaurateur Bill Gibbs

“What we have before us is a way to reinvent ourselves, and we are trying to stay current and move forward in a positive way by adding additional space and adding an auditorium component for performing arts functions.”

Mayor Rick Meehan

“I think this is our economic stimulus. The half-cent reduction in food tax, plus the partnership with the state, bond rates are down and construction costs are at an all-time low, with potential to expand the shoulder season, performing arts center is going to bring people to town. I think this is a win-win.”

Councilman Doug Cymek