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Fairfield Inn & Suites

Rooms won't be the only things Athens' newest hotel will supply, it'll also add jobs

New Athens hotel to expand region’s hospitality sector.


A new hotel in Athens means more than a few extra beds for out-of-town partiers and parents — it means more private sector jobs in a region dominated by Ohio University employers.

When Fairfield Inn and Suites opens at 924 E. State St. in mid-May, it will create 20 to 30 jobs and bring an estimated $500,000 in wages to Athens annually, according to SJB Management Inc. President Jack Bortle, who is overseeing the hotel’s construction and operation.

The hotel will grow the hospitality industry in Athens by 18 percent, and will boost wages in the industry by 17.5 percent, according to the •most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2012.

Hotels and motels employed 164 people in Athens County in 2012, just more than 1 percent of all private sector jobs.

Before the hotel’s construction, there were 599 hotel rooms available in Athens, according to a previous Post report.

Bortle said he is excited to add to the region’s economy, especially considering the small amount of non-government jobs available to area residents.

“Anything we can do to add to the local economy is positive,” Bortle said, adding he has already overseen the opening of three other hotels in the area, and as many as 32 similar projects in the region. “A lot of people are looking for the big sale, the big group of employees. But it’s the smaller businesses that make up our community.”

The Inn is holding open interviews at 1002 E. State St. March 19 from 2 to 6 p.m. Hotel management is advertising •nine positions, including room attendants and van drivers.

Those who can’t make it to the interview can submit an application at the Athens County Job and Family Services’ office in The Plains, said Arian Smedley, spokeswoman at the agency.

The average annual wage for workers in the hospitality sector in Athens County in 2012 was $17,495.

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“It’s always good news to bring more jobs to the county,” Smedley said, adding that face-to-face interviews like these are good opportunities for workers to sell themselves on their skills and personality, rather than words on paper.

Bortle said the benefits of the 87-room hotel don’t end at the jobs it will bring to the area.

Hotel stayers pay a lodging tax of roughly 3 percent each time they rent a room in Athens County. The city uses money generated by that tax to bring more people to the region.

Rooms at the Fairfield Inn and Suites start at $129, according to its website.

Bortle estimated the hotel will pay roughly anywhere between $120,000 and $150,000 in lodging taxes annually. He added visitor’s tourism dollars must be taken into account when assessing hotels’ impact on the area.

“When people stay, they typically buy things,” Bortle said. “That means a gas fill-up and a trip to Kroger, Wal-Mart or uptown shops ... Depending on who you believe, it could be anywhere between three to 10 times what they pay on a hotel room.”


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