CVB tourism commission grants $50K to Discovery Center
The Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Commission unanimously, and enthusiastically, approved $50,000 for the Harrison County Discovery Center endowment fund to help pay for the operation of the center in perpetuity.
The endowment fund, operated by the Harrison County Community Foundation, will receive a two-to-one match from the Foundation until 2019.
Rand Heazlitt, superintendent of the Harrison County Parks Dept., presented the board the plans for the center, to be located in the old jail/archives building in downtown Corydon.
The goal is to open the facility by Nov. 1, in time for the final bicentennial celebrations.
‘It’s an exciting time for the parks right now,’ Heazlitt said, mentioning the Indian Creek Trail project before focusing on the Discovery Center.
‘It’s going to have incredible curb appeal,’ he said. ‘People will be ‘wowed’ at a level Harrison County has yet to see.’
Heazlitt said the group in charge of the museum project, Solid Light, also has completed projects at the children’s museum in Indianapolis, the Evan Williams experience in Louisville, Bourbon trail sites, the Falls of the Ohio and the Mississippi Blues Museum. Solid Light is currently working on a Civil War museum in Richmond, Va.
Heazlitt said the Discovery Center, which will be an interpretive experience, will enhance the county’s economic development and commerce and, hopefully, overnight stays.
Heazlitt explained, room by room, what visitors will see when entering the center. Highlights include a Harry Potter-esque drawer cabinet that will speak to the visitor, a Civil War-themed area that will put visitors in battle and a jail cell where visitors can be locked up.
‘The future of Harrison County lies in tourism … ‘ he said. ‘We’re going to be a bedroom community … it’s just undoubtedly a fact of life.’
The Discovery Center will bring history to life in multiple rooms dedicated to different themes that can change throughout the year.
‘It’s not a one-hit wonder,’ Heazlitt said.
The center will have something for everyone, but it will target youth, he said.
It will act as a hub to push visitors out into the county to see other historical and significant sights.
Financially, the center will see income from not only entry fees (which are estimated at $7 for adults, $4 for children and $2 for a tour), but also from rental of the upstairs banquet hall and the entire center, if requested.
Heazlitt said a conservative estimate shows the center could support 87 percent of its yearly operational costs.
The center will be completely constructed for a total of $2.2 million through a joint venture with the parks, Harrison County Community Foundation, Harrison County Government and the Town of Corydon.
‘It’s really going to be a wonderful, wonderful thing,’ Heazlitt said.
Tourism commission president Michael Wiseman said he visited a similar interpretive center in New Orleans that focuses on World War II.
‘This one looks better,’ he said of the Discovery Center. ‘Phenomenal … my grandfather would be tickled to death … We’ve always seen parks as an integral part of tourism. I can’t imagine $50,000 being better spent.’
Wiseman then made the motion, which was unanimously approved, for the $50,000 appropriation.
The board and Heazlitt agreed that the center will have no impact on the current visitors’ center on the square.
In other business, Heazlitt said work on the connection of the Indian Creek Trail continues and much of it will be completed this year, with the second rehabbed truss bridge to be put in place next spring, connecting the trail between the YMCA of Harrison County and Hayswood Nature Reserve.