HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg is now home to a first its kind hotel, and Hub City economic development leaders said it is the latest example of the city's booming commercial growth.
Hilton has opened a dual-branded Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites in Hattiesburg with 144 rooms for both short trip and extended stay guests.
"It's the best of both worlds," said Kammie Smith, general manager of the hotels. "You have the Hampton hotel, which is a great transient hotel, usually one to two nighters. Then Home2, which is an extended stay facility."
Area Development Partnership President Chad Newell said Hattiesburg sees both types of travelers in two of its major economic areas: the military and education.
"I think it is a great concept that Hilton has rolled out around the country, and we're glad to have it here in Hattiesburg," Newell said. "Hampton Inn's a very nice property, and the extended stay is great. That ties in nicely with our economic sectors. Sometimes there are visiting professors in at either Southern Miss or William Carey. We have folks coming into Camp Shelby, so we have those needs for the extended stay. Then, we've also recruited a lot of companies in from around the world, and they have executives coming in for shorter stays."
Smith said, "It's a great combination in that you have a lot of military who come here. You have a lot of training groups who are in the area, lots of economic development in the area, and we're really excited about that. We did a lot of research to come to Hattiesburg, and there's a reason why we chose this location."
Another reason Smith said Hilton was interested in building in a college town is athletic travelers, especially for football.
"There's a method to our madness," Smith said. "We wanted to open when football season is up and running, home football games and homecoming. We're already sold out, so (it's) exciting."
Newell said the same kind of reasoning and Hattiesburg's population growth are helping to boost retail and commercial development across the city.
"There's such a large demand for area hotels, and the newer hotels in the market have a very high occupancy rate," Newell said. "That drives the growth for others who want to come in and get a piece of the market share."
Smith said, "This market, the Hattiesburg area, is booming. We definitely needed these hotels desperately, and especially these Hilton flags."