County Questions Share Of Planned Northwest Iowa Expo Center
A planned expo space in Northwest Iowa is intended to bring more events, farm and tractor shows to the community. Woodbury County is talking about reconsidering its financial commitment.
Woodbury County and Sioux City officials have been talking for years about turning a former city stockyards site into an expo center with a focus on equestrian events.
When the idea shifted to a more general community events center, costs decreased from $17 million to between $11 and $12 million. The cost covers the construction of the facility with an additional $3 to $4 million required to finance the project.
Woodbury County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rocky De Witt said at a recent meeting he sees value in a center for community and agriculture events, but questions whether a nearby privately owned non-profit sporting complex would make the expo space, called the “Siouxland Expo Center”, a feasible project.
He said he's torn about whether the county should withdraw its $1.5 million contribution, which equals a $150,000 annual payment from the county over a 10-year period.
“And for the record I have yet to speak to anyone rural or city who is in favor of this entire project,” De Witt said.
He continued, “I just want to make sure that this money is being spent properly.”
In a later interview with Iowa Public Radio, De Witt said he thinks it is “perhaps not wise to pull all the funding” but he would like to talk about the county’s commitment since the overall cost of the project has changed.
“So I think it’s prudent to ask if we should reduce our funding by a third or so,” he said.
Even if the county withdraws a portion of its contribution, the project still has city money, grants and funds from local businesses to move forward, said Renae Billings, the business development coordinator for Sioux City.
“We have a lot of support,” Billings said. “We’re nearing the end of what we need to build the facility, so we see this moving forward very quickly.”
Billings said the city values Woodbury County’s partnership, even if they reduce their financial support.
The city envisions the Siouxland Expo Center as a 100,000 square foot venue with flexible spaces for agriculture and community events, a place for farm shows, tractor shows and even a place to hold sports, band and dance practice.
“It’s something we don’t currently have in our community,” Billings said.
The expo center is part of a reinvestment district in the city that has four large projects worth more than $130 million in public and private investment. The four projects are designed to “create a large, positive economic impact on the community,” Billings said.
Sioux City officials will talk about the expo center at Woodbury County’s Board of Supervisors meeting next week.