Polk County postpones Equine Summit one year

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Polk County held the first National Equine Economic Summit at FENCE last year, and planned to hold another this year from April 17-19 at Biltmore Estate in Asheville.

But Polk County Economic Development Director Kipp McIntyre says very few of the estimated 200 attendees had registered. Many of them, he says, cited budget concerns as the reason for declining to attend this year. He adds that some people may be choosing to attend similar events closer to home that were launched following Polk&squo;s Equine Summit.

The expected list of attendees for Polk&squo;s summit this year included local, regional and state economic and community leaders from across the country, including some from Kentucky, New York, California and the Carolinas. Some of them have said they look forward to attending Polk&squo;s summit next year.

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Polk County learned yesterday that the Office of the First Lady of Kentucky is interested in obtaining information about last year&squo;s summit here and plans for the next one.

Last year&squo;s summit, which coincided with the Block House Steeplechase races, drew more than 40 equine industry leaders from across the country.

Many of the participants said in a survey about the summit that it was very informative, and praised Polk County for its hospitality. McIntyre said he hoped the event would establish Polk County &dquo;as a premier equine sciences destination,&dquo; and help promote the equine industry that is valued annually at $39 billion nationally and $500 million in North Carolina.

This year&squo;s event, which was also sponsored by Advantage West Economic Development Group, was moved to the Biltmore Estate because it was expected to draw more people. After discovering recently that many people were not going to attend, McIntyre met last week with Polk&squo;s economic development committee and confirmed the decision to postpone the event.