If nothing happens to derail the progress of Owensboro and Daviess County, 2022 should be a very good year.
More than $150 million in construction projects have been announced, and that number could double.
Ed Ray, chief operating officer for Gulfstream Development, said recently that Gulfstream and other Matt Hayden-owned companies will begin work on $100-million worth of construction in downtown soon.
That includes the $10.8-million headquarters that Envision Contractors will build for Big Rivers Electric Corp., he said.
The biggest piece will be a five-story, $50-million-plus Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel and the attached six-story, 79-unit Brio Apartment Homes complex across Second Street from the Owensboro Convention Center.
“Our goal is to have 180 apartments downtown,” Ray said.
A 101-unit apartment complex will also be under construction downtown in 2022 “within three blocks” of the new hotel and apartment complex, he said.
The Gulfstream project includes a 245-vehicle parking garage for the hotel-apartment complex.
Big Rivers will officially break ground on Jan. 4 for its new 47,000-square-foot, four-story headquarters at 710 W. Second St. — just west of Boardwalk Pipeline Partners.
The company said the new building will have 129 parking spaces and “more modern meeting and collaboration spaces that match future utility needs.”
And Big Rivers plans to build a $30 million operations center — a joint-project with Kenergy Corp. — just east of the Green River Area Development District offices on U.S. 60 West that will employ about 145 workers.
Ellis Entertainment announced plans to construct a 60,000-square-foot entertainment venue in the Towne Square Mall area that will feature 600 historical racing machines, simulcast wagering and a sports-themed restaurant.
The cost of that project was pegged at $16.7 million.
“The new visitor-tourism infrastructure announced with the new hotel and Ellis Park expansion here will continue to give our partners at Visit Owensboro even more options as they sell conferences, conventions and tournaments in our community,” Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said at the time. “Bourbon, bluegrass and barbecue will soon have the horse racing industry to offer even more experiences.
“Besides the actual long-term economic impact, our community’s short-term net on construction dollars, wages and other construction-related economic activity will provide our community revenue to invest in future projects.”
Ray said Gulfstream also plans to start construction in 2022 on more than 700,000 square feet of warehouse space on Kentucky 603, the road that runs from U.S. 60 past Owensboro Health Regional Hospital to Kentucky 144.
In Gateway Commons, he said the company plans to build a strip center and a Five Below store next to Burlington. And it looks like a gas station may be under construction there in 2022 too, Ray said.
Brittaney Johnson, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said six projects worth more than $2.5 billion are being considered for locations in Daviess County.
Two of the projects made site visits in September and October, she said.
“The potential capital expenditure in our pipeline is the largest it has been in my three years with the organization,” Johnson said. “For comparison purposes, we had $700 million in our pipeline last November.”
“We have seen a lot of prospect activity since the beginning of 2021. Several of those prospects have a very large capital investment, and several existing companies are continuing to make large investments in their Daviess County facilities.”
One of those potential projects won approval from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority earlier this month.
The board voted to approve a total of $850,000 in state support for Kimberly-Clark for $110 million worth of improvements it is considering at its plant near Newman.
But the company hasn’t made a final decision on the project.
The community’s hospitality industry is expecting a big year in 2022 also.
January is expected to get off to a strong start with Doug Sheldon of Grand Rapids, Michigan, bringing his Fear Expo Live to the Owensboro Convention Center on Jan. 21-23.
He said earlier he’s expecting it to draw 4,000 people from across the country who operate haunted attractions.
That would be the largest convention and trade show the city has ever seen.
Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the S3DA Indoor National Archery Championship will be at the convention center March 3-6.
“We’re expecting 1,200 to 1,400 archers,” he said. “And they bring an average of 3.1 people per person with them. That will be the biggest sporting event of the year.”
And March 25-26 will bring in a soccer tournament with more than 100 teams, Calitri said.
June will see the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Kentucky Bar Association, the Kentucky County Clerks’ Association, OMG!con and ROMP all in town.
And the American Hydroplane Events’ Facebook page shows a hydroplane race scheduled for Owensboro on Aug. 20-21.
Green River Distilling Co. also expects to make a big splash with the launching of its new Green River Bourbon, a brand which was last made in Owensboro in 1918.
The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden is increasing parking, opening a new driveway, adding landscaping and creating a $150,000 “Path of Hope Healing” that includes a 21-foot tall butterfly sculpture.
The convention center is expecting one of its best years.
“We are expecting a larger turnout for conventions in 2022,” Laura Alexander, the center’s general manager, said recently. “Fourteen conventions that represent over 8,600 hotel room nights have already committed to 2022, and we still have more that are in the works.
“The most impressive number to look at in 2022 is the number of committed hotel room nights at 13,000. We have never had that many room nights pre-committed in a single year, and we plan to still add more.”