County Flat-50 cycling event secures $25,000 grant

GREENFIELD — County tourism officials have approved a $25,000 proposal to fund the Flat-50 promotional website and video, efforts organizers say will bring visitors not only to the cycling event but promote Hancock County attractions.

Last year, a group of community members put together the first 50-mile bike ride in just a few months, managing to attract more than 150 riders to the inaugural event.

With more than 10 months until the next ride, organizers believe they can attract twice the number of riders and entice them to stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants. With the tourism commission’s support, they plan to create a promotional website and a video highlighting the landscapes along the route, said Danielle Daugherty, healthy community coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospital.

The $25,000 grant is a sizable contribution for the tourism commission, whose funding requests usually run between $5,000 and $10,000.

The committee working to plan the second-annual Flat 50 ride asked the Hancock County Tourism Commission to grant them the $25,000 for the website and promotional video in December, and commission members asked them to come back in January with more information and input from a local hotel partner.

Commission members said the committee’s work on Flat 50 is certainly a project the commission can support but initially balked at the $25,000 request. However, Kelly McClarnon said the group’s second appearance before the commission put their worries at ease.

“We know it’s a lot of money, and you know it’s a lot of money,” McClarnon told the Flat 50 organizers. “We expect really big things; we are hoping for a home run with this event.”

Brandy Zimmer, general manager at the Greenfield Hampton Inn, spoke in support of the group to the tourism commission this week, saying the September ride will be a welcome boon during the hotel’s slow season. The hotel is considering discounted rates for those who register for the ride, she said.

The group of cycling enthusiasts — including Joanie Fitzwater, city zoning administrator, and Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation superintendent — last year partnered with local businesses and Hancock Health to provide weekly bike rides leading up to the 50-mile trek through Hancock County. They were aided in their efforts by Matt and Chris Tanner, founders of the Rollfast Gran Fondo, a 100-mile race in Carmel.

The website the committee plans to create will feature similar features to that of Rollfast, the Tanners’ non-profit organization, which aims to promote cycling in central Indiana. Flat 50 plans to adopt several of its website features, including a travel guide, dining guide and trail maps, Daugherty said.

Those are attractive promises, said tourism commission member Brigette Jones, especially since cycling events that span several days have the potential to attract people to Hancock County hotels and restaurants.

Four members of the commission voted to approve the project, while Sarah Kesterson abstained. Commission president Earl Smith was not present at the January meeting.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.