Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

March 2, 2014

Change underway at tourism board

Downtownstudy to be released March 12.

Over at the CVT, they’re trying to decide what to do about Westfield’s new Grand Park, the massive sports venue 35 minutes’ drive to the south.

The venue management wants a commission for sending soccer and baseball tournament attendees north to Kokomo hotels, and for the hotels here to hold rooms.

It’s the same kind of arrangement the Howard County Convention, Visitors and Tourism Commission agreed to during the 2012 Super Bowl, but it didn’t work very well then, and local hotel owners weren’t happy.

The agreement isn’t the only thing receiving added scrutiny at the CVT, which enters 2014 with multiple organizational and strategic changes in the works.

The city of Kokomo now controls the majority of board appointments, and a new management agreement with the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance is being finalized.

A strategic plan, unveiled last year, was dropped, and a new plan is due to be released soon. City parks superintendent Randy Morris, who is also the CVT’s treasurer, is in the process of auditing the CVT’s spending, and there’s been some personnel turnover.

Finally, there’s the downtown feasibility study, due to be released March 12, which could answer the question of whether Kokomo can support a new convention center/hotel near downtown.

For months, speculation has centered on the Northern Indiana Supply Co. building on South Main Street, just across the Wildcat Creek from the downtown core. The red brick warehouses, dating back to the Elwood Haynes era, have been cleaned out and prepped for development.

That’s one possible location, but there could be others. One place the CVT’s board president, Kirk Daniels, is skeptical about is the new bypass, where property values have skyrocketed, and city sewers don’t exist.

But the status of the current Kokomo Event Center, which is now owned by Ivy Tech State College, is a long-term doubt.

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