The head of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart says a major financial turnaround has transformed the attraction’s outlook from "Doomsday" to ambitious growth. Darryl Searer, who became president of museum operator RV/MH Heritage Foundation in 2012, has helped reduce the organization’s debt load from $5.5 million to about $1 million since taking over. New plans call for an expansion that could cost between $8 million and $10 million and provide a tourism boost for the region.
He tells Inside INdiana Business event space is now at a premium at the current property. He says the foundation lost out on around 45 events that would have brought in some $100,000 last year alone because of facility limitations.
The current event center space known as Ingram Hall will be converted into a manufactured housing museum and office space that Searer says could include the relocation of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Plans involve more than tripling the area available for events with three, 20,000 square-foot rooms and movable walls in-between. The 40-acre property would also have what Searer says would be several hundred "rally sites," or lightly-appointed spaces for recreational vehicles to park during gatherings.
Searer says, depending on fundraising efforts, enough backing could be locked in during the next couple of years to pay for the expansion and the remaining debt. He hopes to have the revamped facilities open by 2020.
In a presentation last week that involved the unveiling of the proposed expansion, Searer said "these plans will allow us to grow with the RV and Manufactured Housing Industries, as well as the greater Elkhart community to service the event center needs, office needs and the long-awaited Scoular Manufactured Housing Museum. These plans will also insure a positive cash flow to make certain the Hall will be here forever." The goal is to be debt-free when the project is complete.
The foundation has released a video providing a virtual look at the full scope of the plans: