The high value IMG Academy brings to Manatee County came into startlingly sharp focus this week when the internationally renowned sports center held a ground-breaking ceremony for its new Multi-Sports Complex, complete with a stadium.
Upon completion, the $36 million, 100-acre expansion project will give IMG a venue for even more athletic events and growth in student enrollment from 818 to 1,300, all thanks to a new residence hall and other facilities.
Here's the jaw-dropping part: IMG wielded a $517 million economic impact on the region last year, according to a preliminary report the academy commissioned. Add construction on the 15-year expansion project, launched in 2009, and the figure balloons to more than $715 million.
We already knew IMG was an economic powerhouse for Manatee County and a key cog in the region's prosperity, but wow are those big numbers.
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IMG offered up another welcome development with the announcement that campus venues will be opened up for spectator athletic events -- allowing the public inside the security gates. This will certainly boost the company's profile in the region, state and beyond. And make IMG an even stronger community partner.
Kudos to the sports academy for all this progress.