"The Crossroads of Texas" will have a new stopping place. The city of Hearne announced Holiday Inn will be locating in the northern portion of the city. It is the first major hotel chain to call Hearne home, and the city hopes it's the sign of big things to come.
It's prime property along Highway 6 north of Hearne. Ama's Restaurant is already heading this way, but it will have a neighbor.
"A dozen different investors looked into the property and felt that it was a good site," said Mayor Ruben Gomez.
On the very green but empty lot, there will soon be growth of a different kind: 63 Holiday Inn Express rooms. That's just shy of what Hearne can handle according to an outside commissioned report.
There are obviously hotels in Hearne at this point, as well as a few area bed and breakfasts, but a lot of them are at capacity, in large part due to the railroad industry.
It's more than the tracks that will be driving business to Hearne, according to Economic Development Director Kent Brunette.
"I think the price of oil and gas, the need for people to mine natural resources," said Brunette. "That's what created the oil and gas boom. The same thing with regards to the natural resources in the form of coal that we have here."
If TXU's proposed pair of plants in Robertson County goes through, Hearne stands to see significant impact.
In the meantime, they are touting 100 jobs as a result of FracTech high-pressure pumping coming to town. In all, some 10 businesses not counting potential coal plant transplants have sprung up recently, including restaurants, a bank and an EMS facility.
City leaders point towards growth of the Texas triangle on all sides as a reason Hearne might be on an upswing.
"We've got all sorts of opportunities, we think, that we're just riding the crest of the wave and it's just the beginning," Brunette said.
"It takes time to promote your town," Gomez added. "All cities are out there promoting at the same time, so apparently we're doing something right."
As for the potential for more hotels coming to the area, Gomez says a couple of groups are keeping their eye on how successful the new Holiday Inn is in order to see if future hotels are feasible.
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