Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Candice Miller tours convention center facilities and site

by Candice Miller on January 23, 2014

Representative visits hotel, culinary school

10th Congressional District Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Twp., and Port Huron Mayor Pauline Repp talk during a tour of the DoubleTree by Hilton and Freighters restaurant Jan. 22, 2014 in Port Huron. Purchase Image ZoomFreighters manager Dave Wilson, right, listens to Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, speak during a tour of the Blue Water Convention Center facilities in Port Huron. / JEFFREY SMITH/TIMES HERALD


Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, likes what she sees in Port Huron.


She stopped in the city on Wednesday to tour facilities associated with the Blue Water Convention Center.


“The development is a huge economic move for the area here,” Miller said. “It will multiply jobs and draw visitors from, not only other parts of the state, but nationally as well.”


She toured the renovated Freighters Restaurant, the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, the site of the future St. Clair County Convention Center and the new Baker College


Culinary Institute of Michigan.“That’s what people are looking for,” Miller said. “There is a lot of talk about buying local, but the restaurant and the college are actually doing it. It’s important to do because we have so much good produce to offer that is right from the Blue Water Area.”


Freighters opened this past August.


Port Huron Mayor Pauline Repp, St. Clair County Commission Chairman Jeff Bohm, City Manager Bruce Brown and County Administrator Bill Kauffman were among Miller’s hosts.


“The whole project is exciting


because a lot of local people have been hired for the restaurant and hotel so far,” Miller said.John Kuithe, DoubleTree general manager, noted he “rehired many of the former Thomas Edison Inn employees.”


He said the goal of the hotel was to be warm and reminiscent of the former Thomas Edison Inn.


“If a hotel is a Garden Inn by Hilton hotel, then it will look like every other Garden Inn that exists,” Kuithe said. “Since a DoubleTree is a higher-end hotel, we get more control of how the facility actually looks. If you go to New York, their DoubleTrees will be sleek. We don’t need sleek here —we want to be warm.”


Miller also toured the Culinary Institute of Michigan.


“Baker students


are coming from all over, nationally and internationally,” Miller said. “After a two-year degree, some of these students will be the chefs of our local restaurants and even open up new restaurants in the area. We are growing the cuisine attraction of the area.”The county is reviewing bids to build the convention center, Bohm said.


“When we began the project, we brought in consultants


to decide where the convention center would be built,” he said. “They told us that if we don’t have a hotel right next to or adjacent to a hotel, then we would only be catering to a regional population, and our goal was to attract outside the area.”Repp said: “Since the announcement of the convention center, we have heard of many more interested hotels and restaurants that are thinking of coming to the area.


“When you have a convention center, one hotel is never enough to hold the number of people who attend a convention, so more hotels are needed and more interest in restaurants … because people will want to try a new place to eat each night they are here.”


She said she appreciated Miller’s visit.


“Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a separation between what is going on locally and what’s happening in Washington,” Repp said. “I think it’s great that Miller has an interest in the Blue Water Area and has taken the time to come out to see what is really going on here.”


Contact Nicole Hayden at (810) 989-6279 or Follow her on Twitter @NicoleHayden_TH.

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