National operator to manage rowing center

A national rowing management firm is expected to take over daily operations at the Great Miami Rowing Center in Hamilton.

The Great Miami Rowing Center (GMRC) has entered into discussions with Row America to serve as the its program operator, said Nancy Wiley, GMRC board president. The move will hopefully bolster the center’s image as regional efforts continue to focus on the Great Miami River’s assets.

“Row America will help us take our programming to the next level and expand into the boathouse as we intended,” Wiley said in a press release.

Wiley told the Journal-News that talks began after Row America put out a notice saying they were looking to start new clubs in cities around the country. This past September, Row America representatives were impressed by what they saw during a visit to the rowing center at 330 N. B St.

“Usually they start (a rowing club) from scratch, so this will be the first time they take over management of an existing club,” Wiley said.

She added that coinciding developments on the other side of B Street may have been a factor in Row America's agreement to work with the GMRC. The Journal-News previously reported that feasibility studies have come back positive to possibly develop an indoor sports complex and baseball stadium on the former Champion Paper mill property on the west side of B Street.

Row America was founded in New England and hosts programming for some of the most successful national rowing organizations. Now with outlets forming in St. Charles, Illinois and Knoxville, Tennessee, Row America is spreading west. The GMRC would be their first outlet with an adaptive program, a huge boost to both parties as Row America is a sister operation of Wintech Racing, the premier manufacturer of adaptive rowing equipment.

“With Row America’s national footprint, innovative adaptive programming incubated here on the Great Miami River could spread throughout the steadily expanding Row America network,” Wiley said.

In the next few months, programming will transition from GMRC management to Row America, Wiley said, though the center’s board will remain in a fundraising role.

The rowing center was founded in 2007 by the Hamilton Vision Commission as an effort to improve Hamilton's image, Wiley said. The city of Hamilton sold a portion of the former SMART and Champion Paper facility in August 2014 to the Hamilton Community Foundation on behalf of the GMRC's water programming. This winter Moses B Glick, who owns the former mill property on the west side of B Street, donated $172,000 in demolition work to the rowing center.