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By Matthew Tessnear, The Star, Shelby, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 22-SHELBY - From the American Legion World Series to the soon-to-open Earl Scruggs Center, the county's tourism industry is growing.

That's creating a growing need for places for all those people to stay during their visits to the county.

A new hotel announced Wednesday will provide 86 new rooms to house those visitors - increasing the county's number of hotel rooms by more than 10 percent.

And sources close to The Star say plans are progressing for another new hotel.

Capital Investment Associates LLC - which owns the Holiday Inn Express site and former Carmike Cinemas site off East Dixon Boulevard - plans to demolish the old theater building to make room for a new Hampton Inn & Suites, according to a press release the group issued Wednesday.

Carmike vacated the property about a decade ago when the theater built its new location in front of Cleveland Mall.

"...Our visitor spending was increased last year, ranking Cleveland County No. 8 in the state, " said Jackie Sibley, Cleveland County director of travel/tourism. "There was a 9.61 percent increase in generated income through tourism, which shows our growth in this industry. Simply put, we are filling our hotels and need more room."

The new hotel means three hotels will be within walking distance of each other, as well as near Cleveland Mall, restaurants and adjacent to U.S. 74.

Another nearby hotel recently converted from a Hampton Inn to a Comfort Inn.

Sibley told The Star in December that a new hotel has been a growing need in the county.

"This is a major priority in our county and our biggest necessity, " Sibley said at that time. "Reports show that over $12 million is leaked every year to surrounding counties in visitor spending as a result of our lack of hotel rooms. We do anticipate at least 100 new rooms by the end of 2013."

Sibley said Wednesday that having more hotel rooms in Cleveland County will prevent at least $1.3 million in visitor spending from leaking to surrounding counties during large events.

"The adding of the American Legion World Series, Don Gibson Theatre and the upcoming Earl Scruggs Center are just the tip of the iceberg for travel in Cleveland County, " said Tiffany Lovelace Fairfield, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express, which is also owned by Capital Investment Associates LLC. "Our industrial growth in Cleveland County has been exceptional over the last few years and we are expecting it to continue."

Reach Matthew Tessnear at 704-669-3331, at mtessnear@shelbystar.com or on Twitter @MatthewTessnear.

12:03 p.m.

New hotel rooms are coming to the county in a spot many visited in the past to see the latest movies.

Capital Investments LLC - which owns the land where the former Carmike Cinemas once operated - announced today that it will demolish the vacant building to make way for a new 86-room hotel next to the current Holiday Inn Express.

The 58-room Holiday Inn will continue operation, and a new Hampton Inn & Suites is expected to open in the first quarter of 2014.

For more details on this story, check back at shelbystar.com, follow @shelbystar on Twitter and "like" The Shelby Star on Facebook.



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