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Cottage Grove lodging study finds room for growth

A study of the lack of lodging choices in Cottage Grove has produced preliminary data pointing city officials in the direction of mid-sized hotels.

While the study, conducted by Hospitality Marketers International, is nearing completion, early results confirm recent city-produced data that says visitor lodging options are below expectation.

There are only two lodging options in Cottage Grove—Country Inn and Suites and Wakota Inn.

City Administrator Ryan Schroeder shared HMI’s update at a recent joint City Council and Economic Development Authority meeting. Schroeder said the city has the potential to support a business class hotel, such as a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

The study projects that an 80-room hotel could see a consistent occupancy rate of 80 percent. Schroeder said a hotel of this caliber could produce as much as $2.7 million in revenue by the third year.

City Council member Justin Olsen said he wants the city to be conscious of the type of image being portrayed with the kind of hotel that is built.

“Even the really strongly branded hotels need to be supported by franchisees that have the wherewithal to invest,” Olsen said. “To me, one of the issues we have to address is from a perspective of who do we want to be, what kinds of people do we want to attract?”

Olsen said he was not in favor of allowing an “ultra-low discount price hotel” that would drive down local market rates.

EDA member Steve Schmid, owner of Schmid & Sons Packing, said he would like to see a hotel that can facilitate his out-of-town clients. He said a business class hotel might help attract larger businesses to Cottage Grove.

“If you want those large, national corporations here, you have to able to attract those corporate people,” he said.

Schmidt said often his clients will stay in Woodbury if the Cottage Grove Country Inn and Suites is full.

Mayor Myron Bailey expressed his enthusiasm for the early data and said he plans to bring the study, once it is complete, to the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in May.

“Our target would be to go after some of these hotels because they will all be there,” Bailey said. “Hopefully we can walk into the convention with the information and say, ‘Here’s what we’ve got, here’s an opportunity in Cottage Grove.’”