As with any growing community, there comes a pivotal time when people are called upon to make tough decisions, a time when we must decide who and what we want to be. Evansville, Ind., a town with 40,000 less residents than Clarksville, in a county with 30,000 less residents and with a median household income over $20,000 less than our community, made that decision when they chose to reinvest in themselves with a $127 million event center, that now hosts the OVC tournament, numerous minor league teams as well as concerts and family events.
The projected $20 million-plus created through the proposed Multi-Purpose Event Center is money we would never see without a project of this magnitude. I want you to think about people you know who leave Montgomery County to deposit their revenue outside our community - they attend shows, concerts, games and family activities that could easily be more accessible right here. That money should be spent here. However, we are allowing it to go an hour, or more, away. Recent numbers released by the US Census Bureau show that Montgomery County has grown by another 5,000 residents since 2017 to 205,950 – that is a 19.5% increase in the last eight years. It’s a fact that giving residents options to spend their entertainment dollars locally is critical to a community experiencing our rapid growth.
Recent changes in state legislation will allow sales tax generated from within the facility to fund related debt. Hotel-motel tax, seat user fees and dollars generated from PILOTS that are coming due, will also be a source of long-term funding.
It is being proposed that our community gain an amazing, revenue-inducing destination, that the Economic Development Council can promote to potential community investors, with minimum to no burden on the existing property tax rate.
The location is in our downtown because it needs to be - it doesn’t work without Austin Peay State University as the primary tenant, and proximity to the University is vital. Locating in our historic Downtown - the heart, the lifeblood of our community - will set us up to be both a tourist destination and an ideal place to attract the millennial and Gen Z professional that every community is competing for. Requiring people to drive through your community to get to their destination is a proven economic tool.
Ask yourself this, where would Clarksville-Montgomery County School System hold high school graduations this month if Austin Peay decided to remodel the Dunn Center tomorrow? This is the time when we must decide who and what we want to be. Please reach out to the county commission and let them know what this investment will mean for the next generation and make the obvious decision for our future. Please consider the millions of dollars leaking from this community every year. I ask for each of you who is a proponent for this project to make your voice heard. Make Mon., May 13 the day we take our money back for the betterment of all of Montgomery County.