Promoters of the Bison World project have named a president for the nonprofit corporation seeking financing for the project.
Alex Schweitzer, former superintendent of the North Dakota State Hospital and president of Schweitzer Consulting LLC, will head the Bison World Fund.
Schweitzer announced that Bison World Fund will unveil its master plan on Nov. 30, to the public and to local and state elected officials.
“We are ready to start the project tomorrow,” he said. “We just need the State Investment Board to quickly develop a process to review this opportunity under our new in-state investing law. We can start bidding key elements of this theme park now and break ground next spring.”
Promoters also announced that project developer, Apogee Attractions, has agreed to serve as the developer and operator of the facility when financing is finalized. Robert McTyre, founder of Apogee Attractions and former Walt Disney Attractions executive, will present the plans.
Bison World has been in the planning stages for about two years. The cultural and theme park would be located on land currently utilized as pasture for the National Buffalo Museum herd in southwest Jamestown. Early projections place the cost of the project at about $72.5 million.
When completed, the park would include an amphitheater, museums and other attractions to entertain and educate people about the American bison, the national mammal.
The 2021 North Dakota Legislature requires some investments from the state's Legacy Fund be made in North Dakota projects. The Bison World Fund is planning on being one of the first North Dakota projects to apply for financing from the Legacy Fund.
“We have completed all the groundwork required to make this project a great investment for the people of North Dakota,” said Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation. “The plans are done, the financial analysis is completed, the operator is in place and the investment structure has been formed.”
The JSDC has invested $600,000 in the planning process for Bison World.
Sara Otte Coleman, tourism director for the state of North Dakota, said the project will put North Dakota on the map for tourism and especially improve the experience for travelers along the Interstate 94 corridor.