The community of Albion is celebrating the opening of the Cardinal Inn and Event Center, but its owner and the city say it’s more than just a facility – it’s a symbol of growth and potential.
Just seven months after breaking ground, the 40-room hotel and 600-person convention space is ready for guests.
City leaders say new jobs and revenue will be a boost to the area.
“We were surprised and very grateful that the Christo family decided to reinvest in such an enormous way in our community,” says Albion City Administrator Andrew Devine.
Owner Randy Christo says building in his hometown was an easy decision.
“I wanted to come back to Albion and invest in Albion,” he says. “Albion did a lot for me and for my family, and I wanted to give something back.”
Christo says he wants to keep as many dollars local as possible.
“One of my goals was to try to have most of the contractors, or as much as I could get for materials and labor out of Albion and we did good – most of the people were either from Albion or had lived in Albion,” he says.
Though the city has a population of less than 2,000, Devine says more meeting space is needed for the many corporate industries housed locally.
“Cargill has large facility here which is right adjacent to Valero which is our large ethanol plant, the Boone County Health Center, which is one of the largest employers in the county,” says Devine.
“Albion is out here 50 miles away from Columbus, 60 from Norfolk, 60 from Grand Island, so there’s really no ‘hub’ out here to stay,” says Christo. “That’s what drove me to Albion.”
State leaders say the kind of growth Albion is experiencing shows good things are happening elsewhere.
“It’s very important to the community, and it shows that we have real economic momentum in small communities, medium-sized communities, and our large communities all across the state,” says Governor Dave Heineman, who attended Saturday’s ribbon cutting. “We’ve got to make sure the Albions grow just as much as Lincoln and Omaha.”
The Cardinal Inn already has more than 30 events booked to use their event center space.
It was originally planned to be a 24-room hotel, but with increasing demand, it was expanded to 40.