SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Since the opening of the Golden 1 Center back in September, Sacramento has seen the rise of the 250 room Kimpton Sawyer Hotel. And according to Visit Sacramento, as many as five more hotels are proposed between downtown, midtown, and the expanding convention center.
Visit Sacramento used to produce around 200,000 hotel room nights booked per year, but that’s changing.
“Last year we produced between convention, sporting events, and leisure travel, just over 300,000 hotel room nights in the market, so that’s significant growth,” said Mike Testa, CEO of Visit Sacramento.
Testa said city conventions and activities drew 15 million visitors, pumping $3 billion into the local economy.
He says there are currently 2,300 rooms available in the downtown area. He says ideally, Sacramento would like to be able to comfortably host two conventions at one time, operating at a maximum efficiency of 1,600 booked hotel rooms.
“We’re optimistic because we need it, not only downtown, but in different parts of the community,” Testa said.
But there’s a significant shortage of skilled construction workers to build the projects. According to Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange (SRBX), for every five workers that leave the Sacramento area, only one replaces them. That’s why they’re working with 40 high schools in 12 counties to help educate, recruit and fill the void.
“You have to remember that a lot of that is skilled labor. You’re not just going and picking up a hammer and hitting it. You’re learning high-rise skills, you’re learning welding, you’re learning intricate arts in many of those instances, so it takes a while to pipeline all those workers in,” said Jordan Blair, executive director of SRBX.
Pete Noack is part of the development group working to build a 170-room, 11-story Hyatt Centric Hotel Tower at 7th and L streets.
“Very excited, right next to the arena we feel it’s a dynamic location” he said.
But he says financing and the worker shortage are real challenges.
“That’s why construction costs are going up. To get those skilled guys to work on a full-time job through an entire project you’re going to have to pay them, and that’s what’s happening in town now” he said.
As an example of how much conventions mean to businesses, Testa with Visit Sacramento says one restaurant sees a $40,000 increase in revenue in three days of the largest convention, which is the Wine and Grape Symposium, kicking off in two weeks.