Is economy gaining traction in Walworth County?
WALWORTH When I was 15, I bought a 1959 Corvette, which we brought home by dragging it behind a pickup using a chain,” Dana Mecum says in talking about one of his favorite memories. “Somehow, the hood came off the Corvette and ended up in front of the pickup truck and we ran over it. I traded it to a high school chum for a ’56 Chevy that did run, and the last time I saw that Corvette my friend was standing in his garage with fiberglass all over him and the car.”
Mecum’s automobile collection has grown substantially since then, and he’s turned that wheeling-and-dealing passion into Mecum Auctions, a company he started in 1988.
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And because of a 250-percent sales explosion the last four years, Mecum moved his operation in October from Marengo, Ill., to the former Spiegelhoff’s Pick ’n Save on Main Street in Walworth.
Mecum’s move is one of several signs that an economic upturn is under way in Walworth County. Tourism and small manufacturing have long been part of the economic backbone here, and both areas have seen growth this spring.
In February, the village board approved bonding for the $26.5 million project, which calls for the purchase and extensive renovations that will double the site’s square footage, and adopted a resolution waiving public bidding requirements as an inducement to bring a new tenant into a building that had been vacant for five or six years.
“After being in Marengo for so many years, Dana needed a much larger building to host shows and to house all of his employees, and he was attracted to Walworth County because this place fits perfectly,” said Christine Giovingo, presentation coordinator. “We hope to have everything renovated and open to the public by sometime this fall.”
In the meantime, Mecum hopes to draw thousands of people to its second annual vintage tractor auction, which will be held on the grounds April 14.
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