10/5/2017 5:06:00 PM $5 million 'Fun World' request to Harrison County put on hold
Ross Schulz, Corydon Democrat
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday morning unanimously approved an additional appropriation request of $5 million for the Indiana Fun World proposal out of riverboat gaming funds to be sent to the county council for consideration.
"I'm ready to move on or move out," Louisville businessman and Indiana Fun World planner Ed Dana told the commissioners.
Dana said he has the funding lined up to move forward on the $200 million-plus plan he wants to bring to southern Harrison County.
Dana previously presented his idea for an aquarium, dinosaur park, water park and amusement park to the commissioners and council in separate meetings.
The plan would have the council hear the request at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon (moved from Monday because of Columbus Day). A vote would not take place until Monday, Oct. 23, at the earliest.
But none of that will now occur, according to an email from Dana to elected officials Monday evening. Dana said he needed to put the request on hold.
"I truly appreciate the supporters of my vision for the area, and I want to thank (Commissioner Kenny Saulman) for promoting my endeavor and his outstanding press release (the press release was actually put out by District 3 Commissioner Jim Klinstiver)," Dana said. "That truly helped me create awareness in your community and globally.
"As you know, I have done everything possible to achieve my goals in the area but, unfortunately, I feel that I do not have the right welcome vibe from the community leaders.
"If I accept to put my incentive request up for vote on the 24th (the meeting would actually be on Oct. 23), I would be taking a chance in looking like a fool around the world if the council votes me out ... "
Dana said community and official support is more important than the incentive plan itself.
Dana has received a few requests from other counties in Indiana, he said, but the most "important delegation" was with the city of Louisville.
"Since I started talks with Harrison County, only two council members made statements that they are in support, and it seems that the rest are not sure or bluntly questioning either the development itself or the investment I am bringing to Harrison County.
"The last council presentation had a negative impact on my development and made some investors I brought with me question my interest in Harrison County.
"I hoped I could meet with the uncertain council members and at least have a discussion about their concerns and doubts but unfortunately this did not happen and I do not think they have interest in any discussions."
Details about Indiana Fun World can be found at indianafunworld.com.
In other business, Jeremy Yackle, Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau's executive director, provided results of an economic impact study of the county's tourism and travel industry for 2016.
The tourism and travel industry contributed more than $433.5 million to Harrison County, according to the executive summary provided by Certec Inc., $404.2 million of which was direct spending by tourists.
The tourism industry generated more than $151.2 million in tax revenues to government: $71.7 million to the state, $31.3 million locally and $48.3 million to the federal government.
A total of 2,409 jobs in the county resulted from tourism in 2016, generating nearly $54.4 million in wages to Harrison County workers.
"It really does impact everybody in Harrison County," Yackle said of the tourism industry, mentioning Horseshoe Southern Indiana as playing a major role in the figures.