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Center could get some state funds
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State Representative Ron Stephens has asked the state legislature to allocate $50,000 to Bryan County for a conference center in Richmond Hill.

Stephens, the Savannah Republican who represents Bryan County in the Georgia House of Representatives, said Mayor Richard Davis and others from the city came to his office in Atlanta to ask for any help he could provide in helping fund the project.

"I had a request from the mayor, city manager and some of the city councilmen to place as much emphasis as I could to help with the conference center," Stephens said. "This is a great opportunity for economic development somewhere outside the city of Savannah for smaller groups that want to come to the coast."

Stephens said a conference center in the area would be very beneficial.

"We need it desperately," he said. "There are so many smaller conferences that would like to come to see the beauty of Coastal Georgia but still be close enough to Savannah to enjoy the nightlife and other attractions."

The conference center, which will be built on Brisbon Road in front of the 18th hole at the golf course at Richmond Hill Plantation, is planned to be about 35,000 square feet and accommodate groups up to 500 people, according to Davis.

Davis said he and other city officials originally asked Stephens for $1 million but $50,000 was all Stephens was able to offer. He said the money from the state would be helpful and could help fund the project along with SPLOST funds and hotel and motel taxes. The conference center has been on the drawing board for some time.

"We’ve been planning this for two years," Davis said. "We don’t have a date set (for completion) but we’re looking forward to having it completed sometime in the near future."

Davis said phase two of the conference center project would include an aquatics center.

Stephens said he will find out if the money is allocated for the center at the end of the legislative session, which he said he predicts to be on or around April 20.

"I feel pretty good that at least something will be (allocated) for the conference center in Richmond Hill; it’s too important," Stephens said. "When they come to me and have a bona fide project I really want to get on board. They’re good people."

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