Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Marks Jekyll Island Convention Center's Beginning; BOOSTER the Project Will Bring Business Back to the Area, Politicians Are Promising

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Marks Jekyll Island Convention Center's Beginning; BOOSTER the Project Will Bring Business Back to the Area, Politicians Are Promising

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

JEKYLL ISLAND - Gov. Sonny Perdue left his mark Tuesday on Jekyll Island's grand new development plans.

In a departure from the normal groundbreaking ceremony, Perdue, island officials and the public used wooden styluses to sign or inscribe a few words in wet cement blocks that will be incorporated into the new $50 million convention center complex.

Perhaps because of a cold and punishing wind, Perdue said very little aside from thanking Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and the rest of the organization for continuing to hold their annual meeting on the island. The Farm Bureau wrapped up its event Tuesday, and Duvall and Farm Bureau board members were in the front row.

Perdue signed simply "Sonny" while Jekyll Island Authority board Chairman Bob Krueger wrote his name with what appeared to be "JIA Chair."

Imprints of the tips of Executive Director Jones Hooks' fingers were left in an opposite corner as he steadied the block.

Just south of the ceremony in a parking lot, piles of concrete rubble showed where the former convention center stood. It was demolished just last week.

The main hall of the center will have 50,000 square feet more meeting space than the largest room in the demolished center.

The ceremony was held just short of a year from the date the authority and its former development partner, Linger Longer Communities, announced a mutual parting of ways. In the down economy, Linger Longer asserted it could not get the necessary $120 million it needed at the time to build the entire project. After Linger Longer left, several companies signed contracts to build a commercial village, beachfront park, convention center and other portions of the revitalization.

State Rep.-elect Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, said the $130 million in construction over the next 1' years would be a boost to Glynn County's economy.

State Sen.-elect William Ligon Jr., R-Waverly, said he was pleased the plan respects the natural environment of the island. …

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