Fundraising, hotel, information brochure
For Mike Wilson, Project Awaysis has suddenly evolved from volunteerism to profession.
When the city of Storm Lake administration decided to hire a new staff person to manage the development of the proposed $29 million destination park, it didn't have to look far. Wilson has served as a volunteer for the past 12 months on the project, and has served as chairperson of the central committee that has overseen the project.
Wilson, formerly of First Federal Bank, was offered the position Friday, and on Monday, he said, he started work at city hall.
"With a project of this size, we want to be sure it gets put together as best it can be. Awaysis is going to be tremendously important to the city and to its people," Wilson told the Pilot-Tribune. "Personally, I'm thrilled. I love this project, and I love being involved with this project. It is an opportunity to do something that is really once in a lifetime."
Although city staff members have been leading the way with the destination park planning, it became apparent that a project manager would be needed to focus on bringing the pieces of the project together.
"Project Awaysis stands to be the largest project undertaken by the City of Storm Lake, and as such it is a project that deserves the full attention of a dedicated project manager," said City Administrator John Call.
With Wilson's knowledge of the project, along with his experience in finance and management, city officials said they feel fortunate to have hired the former volunteer to lead Awaysis to completion. He will coordinate all issues related to Awaysis through the end of the construction, expected to last at least into 2008.
Wilson said that "the stars have continued to line up" for Awaysis, bringing it from an ambitious idea to an imaginative plan to a reality with a Vision Iowa grant, in only two years.
There are now countless details to attend to.
"There are so many pieces that have to come together. We will continue what we have been doing, but there is a lot still to do," Wilson said. "It certainly isn't a one-man show and never will be. The city administration people - John Call, Justin Yarosevich, Patti Moore - have done so much, and so have all the volunteers. They will all continue to be involved in what is a very big team effort."
Immediate goals include putting together the team that will perform the local fundraising, and evaluating potential management firms for the proposed lodge hotel. A magazine-style brochure is also in the works to bring all of the available information on Awaysis together.