Two groups from Jackson County are among five in southern Michigan vying to pursue a multimillion-dollar horse park.
The Springport Township Equine Partners and The Enterprise Group in Jackson have submitted letters of intent to submit proposals to the Michigan Equine Partnership.
The Lansing-based partnership received a $60,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2007 to determine if a multi-use equine facility is feasible in southern Michigan.
The group concluded it is feasible. The next step is to field proposals by June 1, then pick one that seems most promising, Executive Director Val Vail-Shirley said.
``Our deadline for proposals is June 1, then we will move forward to partner with areas that are feasible,'' Vail-Shirley said.
Michigan Equine Partnership, which promotes all phases of the horse industry, has received letters of intent from five groups in Jackson, Livingston, Oakland and Calhoun counties, she said. Another one might come from Detroit, she said.
General plans call for 600 to 1,000 acres of open land and access to major highways in southern Michigan. The facility could include a convention center, stalls for 2,000 horses or other livestock, campgrounds and show arenas. It must be a year-round facility with room for everything from rodeos and horse shows to RV and sports shows, officials said.
No current facility -- including Michigan State University's exposition center -- is large enough to handle international, national or state horse shows, Vail-Shirley said.
The Springport group claims the best potential locations for the park.
``We will offer a very viable presentation to build here,'' Chairman Bill Russell said Friday. ``What better place for a horse park than in a rural setting, a farm community whose FFA program is nationally recognized?''
The Enterprise Group wants the Equine Partnership to consider a horse park closer to Jackson, possibly on Department of Corrections or other state property. It has several potential sites in mind.
``Right now, no idea is a bad one,'' said Roni Weaver, director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center of The Enterprise Group.
Scott Fleming, chairman and CEO of the Enterprise Group, said a horse park would have considerable economic impact on the region.
Fleming said a horse park would hire up to 20 full-time employees and generate $6.4 million in a typical three-day horse show.
Steering committees will spend the next few months gathering information on potential sites, finances, potential backers and other planning details.