April 22, 2004
Cook County-- A major new development that will draw thousands of visitors almost every week. It's a racing facility, unique in the southeast, and it will have a tremendous economic impact on the region.
There's not much Neal Bennett enjoys more than fiddling with race cars. "We probably more like say we love it than we enjoy it."
Bennett is thrilled to race at the new South Georgia Motor Sports Park. "It's gonna be unreal how fast the cars goes here."
Bennett will come here from his home in Lakeland every chance he gets, but he knows many racers and fans will travel much farther. "If they live within 250 or 300 miles of here, they'll be here."
The drag strip is ready for racing. Work continues on the VIP boxes. There's also going to be a half mile oval track and motocross track, creating year-round entertainment. "It's just about every weekend, every Friday and Saturday night," says Shad Dean, track manager.
Those events should draw 200,000 visitors a year, but that's not all the park will attract. The track is the anchor tenant of a new 3000 acre industrial park.
"We anticipate build out to be in about ten years, and if so that will employ over 1,700 jobs," says Economic Development Director Kerry Waldron.
This is a great location for industrial development. It's on a main rail line and right between I-75 and Highway 41. Infrastructure improvements made for the track should help attract new industries, and they're already leading to other development.
"A hotel will be renovated and opened, another restaurant will be opened, gas stations will be opened, we're also seeing expansion in our existing retail establishments," said Waldron.
Proving this track will be a great attraction for people like Neal Bennett, who like to "Drive fast and have fun, that's it." And the powerful engine that will drive Cook County's economy for years to come.
Economic developers estimate the park will have a $37 million ecomomic impact on the area annually. The track will host its first competition this weekend.
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