by Heather B. Hayes
Fredericksburg officials hope the proposed Kalahari Waterpark Resort will drive down the city’s unemployment rate and help it attract more conventions and events.
The $200 million resort is scheduled to be built in Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia Tourism District. Officials expect the project to draw 1 million guests annually and generate $123 million in economic activity each year.
The resort will include a 125,000-square-foot, year-round waterpark built around an African theme; 100,000 square feet of conference and event space; and 700 guest rooms and suites. It also will have a spa, restaurants and shops. The complex is expected to open in late 2009.
City Economic Development Director Kevin Gullette expects the resort, being built by Wisconsin-based Kalahari Resorts, to create 900 service-oriented jobs and 100 salaried positions.
Some theme parks, such as Kings Dominion in Hanover County, recruit many of their employees from overseas. Fredericksburg, however, recently had a jobless rate of 5.5 percent, much higher than the statewide average of just under 3 percent. “We do think this will be an outlet for people who don’t have work in the city,” says Gullette. He also believes many area residents who currently have long commutes will apply for the resort’s professional positions.
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