Governor Tom Vilsack was in Newton’s City Hall Wednesday evening to sign a bill into law that grants a $12.5 MILLION tax break to a race track planned in Newton. Vilsack says the speedway is part of a “new vision” for the state. “This is clearly going to be one of the crown jewels of our efforts,” Vilsack said. “This is about a community that never stopped believing in itself, about a region that understands that it is a cooperative and collective effort, about individuals who believed in all of you to get this done and legislators who worked hard — many of whom are here — and very creatively to get the job done.” Newton Mayor Chaz Allen thanked the mayors of the nearby towns of Grinnell and Baxter for their support of the project. “That kind of shows that this project is about a region. It’s about a tourism triangle,” Allen says. “It’s gambling in Altoona. It’s the Dutch in Pella. It’s Red Rock by Knoxville. It’s the Knoxville Nationals and now we’ll have an anchor up here with the motor sports complex with several different types of racing here in Newton.” Larry Clements of Newton, a car dealer who also owns a race car, started working on the project in 1998. “We talked to a lot of people from around the country and it all shook out — all of the investors in the project are Iowans and we’re doing it because we think it’s good,” Clements says. “The city of Newton deserves this.” Brad Manatt of Newton, another investors, says construction of the $72.5 MILLION facility should start within month. Newton City Councilwoman Jean Morgan says the track’s a ray of sunlight for Newton. “It’s been a little tough around here. It’s nice to the sunshine metaphorically,” Gordon says. “It’s an exciting time. A lot of people have worked a lot of years on this.” Denny Chalupa, a Newton attorney who’s led the local investment group, says things should get moving in about four weeks.”I think we’ll also see a lot of development around it, which I’m exciting about for the city,” he says. “The city can use a boost right now.” Carl Repp of Newton is a long-time racing fan. He’s been going to the Knoxville raceway for the past 46 years and can’t wait to watch races in Newton. “It’s fantastic,” Repp says. “It’s been a long time coming.” Royce Sparks of Newton has been watching live races since the ’60s. “I think you’ll see some good racing,” Sparks says. “A new track is going to bring some guys (who) want to run on it.” Dick Stiles of Newton sees a different side of the track — the economic side. “I know absolutly nothing about racing or being a race fan. I’ve never even attended a race, but I’m a Newton fan, so I’m happy for Newton,” Stiles says. With the governor’s signature on the bill, the race track owners will be able to get a $12.5 MILLION rebate on state sales taxes charged on race tickets and concessions at the track. The legislation stipulates that at least 60 percent of the track must be owned by Iowans; track backers said Wednesday it’ll be 100 percent Iowa-owned. You can hear the comments from Governor Vilsack and Newton’s mayor at Wednesday’s bill signing ceremony at www.radioiowa.com.
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