Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

What might ag complex mean to region?

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Greg Peck
Friday, March 8, 2013

For three years, the private Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group has been sowing seeds for a center near Evansville that would host agricultural events and education.

Leaders were plowing the groundwork out of the media spotlight until Gazette reporter Gina Duwe caught wind of the plan and got them to sit down and explain it. Duwe’s story in last Sunday’s Gazette revealed a lofty goal. The group hopes to raise at least $25 million for a complex to educate and engage people in agriculture and promote and protect the industry.

Last year, the group sunk $2.17 million into buying 217 acres at the southeastern corner of Highway 14 and County M on Evansville’s east side. They hope to dedicate almost half that land to agricultural activities while using about 40 acres for commercial development.

Plans include a 40,000-square-foot year-round agriculture discovery center to showcase innovations with high-tech, hands-on, interactive learning experiences. An expo area would include a 45,000-square-foot exhibition hall and perhaps later a grandstand, amphitheater/stage, equestrian facility, camping, midway, livestock barns, and outdoor demonstration, show and garden areas. A 20,000-square-foot campus of classrooms and labs would serve K-12 agriculture education and youth groups. Blackhawk Technical College wants to add 9,000 square feet to that for its ag programs.

The complex might even someday be the new home of the Rock County 4-H Fair.

The group is in the middle of a fundraising feasibility study. That goal of $25 million is lofty. Do you think it’s possible to reach?

We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Sunday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:25 am Monday, April 29, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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