- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

DALTON, Ga. (AP) - Both Miller Jones and Dennis Mock pledged on Wednesday to continue Dalton’s efforts to grow its tourism industry if they are elected mayor, saying a diverse economic base is vital to the area’s future.

“Tourism brings money into this community,” said Jones. “People spend money at our hotels, our restaurants and shops. And that money tends to stay in this community as the people who work there spend it here locally.”

The two men, who are looking to fill the final year of former mayor David Pennington’s term, spoke during a forum sponsored by the Dalton Hospitality Association that focused on tourism. Approximately 20 people attended. Pennington stepped down earlier this year for an unsuccessful run for governor.

“Tourism is economic development,” said Mock. “When we can get people to come here, we get them to spend money in local businesses. We also get a chance to show off Dalton and get our name and what we have to offer out there.”

Both men were asked if they support an attached hotel at the trade center. When the trade center was built some 25 years ago, it was designed to have a hotel attached to it. Local officials have tried several times in the intervening years to attract a developer to build that hotel but have not succeeded.

“I believe that the only way that we are going to get the full use out of the trade and convention center is to bring a hotel there,” said Mock, who said he would do whatever he could to interest a developer in the site.

Jones said that often it’s better to have hotels and restaurants near a convention center rather than attached to it. But the trade center’s location makes that difficult.

Four years ago, local hotels asked the city to increase its hotel/motel tax to 7 percent from 6 percent provided that extra percentage point went to the Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Both men said they believe the city should continue to use the money from that extra 1 percentage point to fund the CVB and not divert it to other uses. By law, hotel/motel taxes must be used to promote tourism.

The nonpartisan special election is Nov. 4. Early voting has already begun at the Whitfield County Courthouse and continues through Oct. 31.

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Information from: The Daily Citizen, https://www.daltondailycitizen.com


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