This month, Ben White, Vice President of Economic Development at the Round Rock, Texas Chamber of Commerce, shared an exciting project win with Economic Development Secrets listeners. Kalahari will be a 150,000 square foot convention center, up to 1,000 room hotel, 200,000 square foot water park, and 100,000 square foot family fun center that is a game changer for Round Rock and Williamson County. Read the excerpt to find out how Round Rock went about attracting this deal.
This all started with a cold call that we made up to the Kalahari folks. We felt like we were missing a destination resort for Round Rock, and we are the sports capital of Texas, so we’re missing some of our national tournaments based on not being able to block enough hotel rooms for different events.
Combining the need for a hotel that has sizable enough rooms that we can block 250 rooms for a special event, and make it a destination resort, we reached out to Kalahari to see if they were interested in coming. It was a cold call. Our initial conversation was successful enough to where they sent a site selector down the following week. We toured the site selector through many sites, and then the site selector, as everybody in economic development can appreciate, he was a very detailed, very, very detailed site selector and wanted to not just check out Round Rock, but he wanted to check out all the communities in Central Texas after that because if you’re going to invest hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on a project, you got to do it right. You got to get the right location.
… At the end of the day, we kept plugging along with Kalahari. We had dinners in the backyard of one of our former Mayors, and we had the former Mayor and current Mayor doing a great job on telling him why Round Rock would be a great fit. A contingency of us flew up to their grand opening of their third resort up in the Poconos, and they didn’t even know we were coming, we just showed up, and it really made an impression on them.
… At the end of the day the Kalahari folks really felt comfortable with how we do business in Round Rock and how we really do work on that partnership, and they could tell we were going to be good partners with them, and they were going to be good partners to us. It comes back to that comfort feel. It’s not always about the incentives. It’s not always about helicopter rides. It’s not always about glitz and glamour, it’s about making sure that the company feels comfortable with your community and that your community feels comfortable with them. I think at the end of the day that is what won this project.
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