In a region where economic development ideas are often scoffed at, a planned sports complex in Crawford County is an idea that should be embraced and the county should band together to find ways to make it work.
A collaborative between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked Crawford County 64th in the state for estimates of its future health based on health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic, and physical environment factors.
And reports show the county doesn’t have the proper physical environment.
A marketability study by The National Association of Sports Commissions highlighted how the county didn’t provide enough facilities for families and children outside of high school, and also revealed quality of life issues for seniors because there weren’t any places to walk.
Although the complex won’t single-handedly solve every issue in the county, it definitely is a another step in the right direction.
Gary Frankhouse, the executive director of the Crawford County Partnership for Education and Economic Development, rightfully said the sports complex will improve the quality of life for Crawford, while bringing in tourism, new residents and business.
“I think it becomes an industry in our county,” he said. “It’s way more than sports.”’
If done right, the center should result in major revenue for the county, especially with a push to host tournaments at the facility.
Events being held at the center equates to people travelling to our area.
The partnership is now looking at five acres of land, owned by Galion, located adjacent to Peco Park on state Route 598. The potential site is also located near the state route’s intersection with Brandt Road, where the 70-bed Sleep Inn hotel is expected to be built.
“It’s the best potential site identified to date,” said Galion Mayor Tom O’Leary. “Crawford County needs types of development that make our community more interesting; more attractive to younger families and people who are fitness-oriented.”
And for Galion, having the complex on city land promises a positive impact here as well.
And with the possibility of the center being located near Galion’s new hotel, it’s not unrealistic to hope that the travelers would also explore businesses and attractions through Galion and the rest of the county.
The result is that everyone wins.
But with any plan, patience is a virtue.
The facility may not be ready until 2020, but seeing the hard work done by Frankhouse and his group is definitely encouraging.
We like how the group is putting together a solid fund-raising plan for the facility, with many more options than just reaching out to residents here.
Their plans include also reaching out to state, foundations and private donors.
And for Galion and Crawford County residents, we hope that residents would be able to take advantage of facility rentals.
In an area which is known for multiple groups in the same area who do similar things, we also like to hear that the project is described as a collaboration between the complex and YMCAs around the area.
When groups work together, great things happen.
It’s a lesson that others should also take note of.
– Chris Pugh