Thursday, October 1, 2009

NC Horse Council to Get New Equestrian Park

Study shows equine industry has a solid kick: $1.9 billion
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By Jonnelle Davis
Staff Writer

Financing secured for equestrian center (May 14)

WENTWORTH — The equine industry isn’t recognized as a major force in the state’s economy but should be, according to study results presented Tuesday night to Rockingham County residents.

The N.C. (Pro-Slaughter) Horse Council, along with other state agricultural and equine leaders, presented findings from the Equine Economic Impact Study. The study, which surveyed horse owners, participants in equine events and related businesses, revealed that the industry has an annual economic impact of $1.9 billion .

“That’s a very substantial number,” said Mike Yoder, an extension horse specialist at N.C. State, during a town hall meeting at RCC.

The study also showed that horse owners spend $1.4 billion annually on goods and services. Ninety percent of those purchases are made within the state.

Yoder said the state’s equine industry, which also includes donkeys and mules, is diverse, dynamic and growing.

“At $1.9 billion annually, we are a solid agricultural commodity in North Carolina, and we need to remember that,” he said. (But no $$$ for rescue and/or re-hab, or to support anti-slaughter legislation)

Recommendations from the study include the establishment of an equine industry commission to advocate for the industry.

There are bills in the state House and Senate that could fund such a commission, said Rep. Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham, who attended the meeting.

The N.C. General Assembly commissioned the study in 2007. The results come at a critical time for Rockingham and Guilford counties.

Rockingham County is preparing to build the first phase of its equestrian center — the Horse Park of the South. N.C. A&T is a partner.

Rockingham County is hoping to pump life back into an economy that has been hard hit by the loss of the tobacco and manufacturing industries.

A&T officials want to grow an equine program still in its infancy. The university has a 21-credit-hour certificate program in equine management but hopes to offer a major one day, said Rusty Miller, equine program coordinator with the school’s department of animal science.

Phase one of the horse park costs $6.8 million and will include 300 stalls, four outside show rings and classroom space for A&T. It will be built on 155 acres at Barnes Street and U.S. 29 in Reidsville.

When done, the horse park’s total project cost will be about $14 million.

So far, the project has received $1.5 million from the Golden Leaf Foundation and $2.4 million from the General Assembly. The county, the city of Reidsville and the Reidsville Area Foundation also are helping pay for the initial phase.

Rockingham County Manager Tom Robinson said he’s gotten calls from businesses interested in opening in the county if the equestrian center becomes a reality.

“I think we’re going to develop a lot of friends once we break ground,” Robinson said Tuesday.

The meeting attracted about 75 people, including Garry and Lorrie Hutchens. The couple own eight horses and live about three miles from where the horse park will be built. They say they welcome the business traffic the park is likely to bring to their side of town.

“I’ll be there myself watching the horse shows,” Lorrie Hutchens said.

Contact Jonnelle Davis at 627-4881, Ext. 126, or

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BeachwalkSeptember 30, 2009 - 10:53 am EDT
N.C. Horse Council.?
No agenda there.

"establishment of an equine industry commission to advocate for the industry."
To put it another way; Lobbyist, who will go to Raliegh and beg for more of your tax money to keep it running.

Reply to this comment IlliteratiSeptember 30, 2009 - 11:14 am EDT
Interestingly, there's a horse farm for sale in the county for a million bucks that already has 3 barns and an indoor arena. The county could buy that and have money left over from the existing funding to make it suitable for public events. Of course, it isn't in Reidsville, where Tom Robinson and his buddies live...

This whole project is a nice present for a few select people in Rockingham County. They claim it'll add a whopping 12 jobs (minimum wage probably) and allegedly attract other businesses around it. Considering the speed at which commercial property is going vacant, that's unlikely.

In the meantime, the western half of the county continues to be ignored and is seeing increasing numbers of empty storefronts and vacant houses. Don't worry about us over here, Tom, just take our taxes and build your fancy pony palace at our expense.

Reply to this comment ravencottageSeptember 30, 2009 - 11:32 am EDT
maybe A&T can have homecoming concerts there

Reply to this comment Local ManSeptember 30, 2009 - 12:51 pm EDT
For those who see opportunity they will prosper. Let's work hard to not let the others hold us back.

Reply to this comment IlliteratiSeptember 30, 2009 - 2:03 pm EDT
I see opportunity, but I also see another, more prudent, taxpayer-friendly way to get there. Did you even look at the property I linked to? It suits this project to a T, and it offers a great opportunity for ancillary revenue for the county besides horse-related events. The buildings could be rented to businesses for off-site meetings and retreats, or weddings and family reunions. The property itself, with a stocked pond and trails, could be a jewel of a county park and a destination for people from other areas. Near HWY 220 makes it convenient to GSO, W-S, and High Point, as well as being a pretty straight shot to Roanoke and Lexington (where the other horse center is located).

The arena seats 700 people, has fancy "Hollywood" lighting, public bathrooms with showers, offices, lounge, and more. This property is probably better and much more versatile than anything that our tax dollars are about to build in Reidsville. And it's only a million dollars, which would leave the county with several million to retrofit it accordingly.

Reply to this comment Local ManSeptember 30, 2009 - 10:08 pm EDT
The property you mention is certainly a good investment since it's value will certainly rise after the Horse Park of the South is built. One problem though the hotel owners in Rockingham County have agreed to put up a sizable amount of the money over the years via the ocupancy tax. There are no hotels in Madison. The hotel traffic is certain to go to Greensboro and Martinsville.This also sends much needed tax dollars which you would use to reduce the tax burdon outside the area and even the state. Sewer infastructure for hotels and resturants could also be a problem.

Reply to this comment DanvilleSeptember 30, 2009 - 3:32 pm EDT
IM looking forward to the center!! But they have been breaking ground on it for 6 years? Whats up with that?? With 600 stalls and 155 acres they should consider adding an adjacent (horse) race track on the property. "Colonial Downs" in Virgina is a blast!

Reply to this comment IlliteratiSeptember 30, 2009 - 6:14 pm EDT
Hm, could we have betting? And slots? If yes, then I could be convinced to be more excited, especially if the revenue went into the county coffers and our property taxes went down!

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