ELKHART - The much-anticipated Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics and Community Center could break ground as early as next month and two key figures behind the $65 million project say it is about much more than sports. Elkhart-based Insight Strategic Concepts Inc. President Shelley Moore, who serves on the steering committee, was joined on Inside INdiana Business Television by Community Foundation of Elkhart County President Pete McCown and said the center will provide a big quality of life boost to the county, which already boasts one of the state's lowest unemployment rates. She adds the attraction and subsequent development planned around it could help convince some of the thousands of out-of-town workers that are employed in Elkhart County to stay.

"This is really about building an area -- a very specific area (called the River District) -- that will have a residential, walkable community that has this center for health and wellness," Moore says. In addition to the center, plans for the district call for greenspace, access to the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers that border the area and a mix of structure types all along East Jackson Street.

McCown adds the center is expected to be a boon to tourism. "This is a world-class facility that will compare to any natatorium in the country, if not the world," McCown said. It will feature "a 66-meter-length pool and we anticipate that there will be 40,000 people a year that come for regional and national swim events like we would find in the Indianapolis Natatorium (at IUPUI)."

The aquatic center has received backing from the public and private sectors, including $14 million in Regional Cities Initiative funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.