TALLAHASSEE: Florida Governor Charlie Crist has announced a $1 million grant for the Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority Inc. through the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. The funds will support a market study, site planning and basic infrastructure for expanding the 500-acre Florida Horse Park, located on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway near Ocala.
“Visitors to Florida enjoy a wide variety of activities and interests, and an enhanced Florida Horse Park will be a great addition to the Ocala area and the many other great parks and attractions our state offers”, Governor Crist said.
“These funds represent the first step toward establishing the state-of-the-art facility we envision,” said Jon Barber, Executive Director of the Florida Horse Park. “We look forward to involving our donors and friends in creating the next generation horse park.”
The park currently creates an economic impact of $15.1 million, according to a recent economic impact study prepared by William H. Fruth of Policom Corporation. With added facilities, the park is expected to create an impact of more than $75 million.
“The Florida Horse Park serves as a powerful economic engine, generating significant returns for the local and state economies,” said Dr. Dale Brill, Director of the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. “With this grant, the park can move forward with needed expansion plans.”
Former Horse Park Chairman Whitfield M. Palmer, Jr. has been instrumental in working with the state on this funding. “I appreciate the Governor’s awareness of the need to stimulate economic development,” said Palmer. “We are now one step closer to making this a facility that all Floridians will be proud to call their Florida Horse Park.”
Since 2006, the park has been an Official Training Facility for the United States Equestrian Team and also hosts training sessions for the Canadian Equestrian Team. Since 2005, the quantity, quality and variety of events at the park have increased dramatically. This year, the park will hold more than 60 events in 11 disciplines, including four international events recognized by the international governing body of equestrian sports, the Federation Internationale Equestre (FEI). Each year, the park draws thousands of horse enthusiasts from all over the world to the area.
For more information, please contact Margaret Rowell, Director of Development, Florida Horse Park, at (352) 307-6699, or via e-mail at email@example.com.