Fundraising for Evansville agriculture complex could begin in 2014

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Andrea Anderson
Friday, November 22, 2013

BELOIT — Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group plans to launch its fundraising campaign for a regional agricultural events and education center in early 2014.

Board members of the group attended a Blackhawk Technical College Board meeting Thursday night in an effort to keep communication flowing between the non-profit and potential investors, Mike Larson, SWAG board president said.

The group is hoping to raise $16 million to $20 million to build an agricultural complex that would sit on 217 acres at the southeastern corner of Highway 14 and County M on Evansville's east side.

Kari Kuehl, SWAG board member, presented a nearly final plan for the project.

Included is an agriculture education campus of classrooms and labs, an agriculture exposition area and an agriculture discovery center.

Kuehl told the board that the complex is a way of educating and engaging the community in agriculture, promoting the industry and providing educational tools for the current and future workforce and industry leaders.

"This is one-size fits all," Kuehl said. "We're not going to target one audience, we need to target everybody."

Blackhawk Technical College has committed to being a part of the agriculture education campus and will play a large role in reaching out and building a solid workforce.

"Blackhawk can get to those youth and tell them this is the opportunity to get those hands-on experiences," Kuehl said.

The SWAG board is working with advisory committees comprised of representatives from such companies as John Deere in ensuring the final business plan has tools and programs that provide the experience and skills future employers seek.

After the final plan is complete and the fundraising tactics are finalized, fundraising will begin and could be complete in 12 months to 15 months, Larson said.

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