A decadelong effort to bring a hotel and conference center to Walker County received state backing on Friday.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs will award the county $15 million in recovery zone bonds through stimulus funding intended to jump-start economic development, said Larry Brooks, Walker County resource coordinator. The money will be used to create a 150-room hotel and conference center at the Canyon Ridge Club & Resort, a golf community in Lookout Mountain, Ga., he said.
The development is expected to create more than 250 jobs and open up a new economic sector for the area, he said.
"Traditionally the jobs we've relied upon have been heavily geared toward manufacturing, so this really opens up a brand new application for the county within the tourism market," Brooks said. "What it does is just provides diversity within our county."
He said details are still being worked out and it has yet to be determined whether the hotel and conference center will be "more of a luxurious type of destination setting" or "something a little more rustic."
Randy Baker, president of RCG Management Group, which owns Canyon Ridge, said he plans to break ground in March or April, and he envisions the finished product will be a "place to attract businesses and captivate visitors who already come into Walker County but don't have a place to stay."
Contact staff writer Brittany Cofer at bcofer@times freepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/brittanycofer.