Local hotels report steady occupancy rate

At the Monday meeting of the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board, Executive Director Ken Becker offered a report on the occupancy rate for the local hotels.The rate has seen an increase, in that a 66.7% occupancy rate was noted toward the end of 2012; hotels need around a 55% rate in order to maintain operations. Thus, out of 604 hotel rooms, only 402 rooms were booked. Though the occupancy rate is high, rooms are still available even in the midst of continuous and incoming activity to the area.While there are currently around 9 hotels in the community, additional hotel chains have shown possible interest in coming to Sweetwater. Another means of preparing for the future growth from the Cline Shale oil development is in the works, as noted by Becker in his monthly report. An informative event organized by SEED would bring together various agencies such as county school districts and representatives from the city, county and hospital. Already, several entities have displayed a strong interest in the gathering.Property updates were also given, as work with several companies continue. Discussions are still taking place among SEED staff and various land owners so that the economic development group can obtain additional property.Also during the meeting, several action items were presented. The 2012 Financial Audit was approved, with Cathy Wilks presenting an overview statement. A clean letter of opinion was given, and Wilks offered brief details from the report.In addition, the December 2012 financial statements were approved. A review was given by Becker, in which he noted that sales tax numbers are back to their normal trend.However, as the oil development continues to make an impact in the area, the sales tax numbers will change. Unemployment was also noted at standing right under 5% for the county as of December 2012.The payment of accounts payable was approved as well, along with the minutes from the January meeting. The meeting concluded with an executive session in order for the board to discuss economic development/real property negotiations/personnel matters.