The Public Building Authority (PBA) is considering asking Middle Tennessee State University to conduct an economic study of the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center again. PBA members discussed the possibility at their Jan. 10 meeting.
In 2016, a study was conducted by the Business and Economic Research Center at MTSU using information the center had provided. The study concluded the conference center contributed approximately $4.7 million in business revenue to the county in 2016.
However, with the study relying heavily on numbers provided to MTSU by the conference center, the results have been questioned. The provided numbers conflicted with previously reported numbers, audit results from the comptroller’s office and records provided to the Times and The Tullahoma News by MCCCC management.
General Manager Rebecca French said at the Jan. 10 meeting, she feels much more confident about the data she would provide to MTSU now.
French said she reached out to MTSU and told Dr. Murat Arik, director of the Business and Economic Research Center, that the conference center’s numbers have been “amazing.”
“Our numbers are so amazing, our reporting is so accurate,” French said. “We have all these reports we can run from this booking software that we use.”
French asked Arik how much a new study would cost, she added.
“Dr. Arik said they are (busy) until September,” French said, adding Arik didn’t have a price, but he would get back to French if PBA members want to seek out a new study, and if they agree to it, he’ll put them in for a September cycle for students to study the conference center.
French added that with “the conference center being such a topic about whether or not there’s a return on investment, whether or not it is profitable to our community, whether or not it is beneficial,” it would be a good idea to complete a study again.
“Since we have accurate numbers now, and we’re not going off of paperwork that I had no control over – I know what’s being reported is accurate now,” French said. “I think we should revisit letting MTSU studying us again before making major decisions about our building that would affect our entire community.”
French said PBA can make a decision after Dr. Arik gave her a price.
For the previous study, the Business and Economic Research Center received a sum of $2,500 for student work. Arik personally did not receive compensation.