The Columbia Lodging Association hosted five of the six mayoral candidates this morning for a candidate forum. Candidates responded to questions submitted by members of the association.
The president of the Columbia Lodging Association, David Streeter, said bringing more economic development to Columbia is important to the group.
“Columbia needs more industry and more business,” Streeter said. “We have more hotels than we have business for.”
Lorah Steiner, director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the candidates’ responses about the airport were especially relevant. She said that the airport is “critical to future business growth.” Steiner is not a member of the association but said the Convention and Visitors Bureau works with the Columbia Lodging Association.
Both Paul Love and Sid Sullivan said they’d like to see a restaurant out at the airport. Sullivan also said it was important to increase the number of rental cars available there.
Sean O’Day said he wanted to increase advertising about the airport.
“It’s the only way to get people in there and get people to invest in it,” O’Day said.
Bob McDavid said there is “no option but to fund that airport.”
Jerry Wade said that it would be necessary to update the terminal.
“I imagine we’ll see that as a bond issue in the near future,” he added.
Sal Nuccio did not attend the forum.
The Columbia Lodging Association represents 15 hotels and about 1,000 employees. Streeter said the group has not talked about endorsing a candidate.
More information about the airport can be found here.