GENEVA -- Spire Institute would not be possible if not for the vision of Geneva businessman Ron Clutter and his wife, Tracey.
Lifelong Ashtabula County residents, the Clutters originally wanted to build a sports complex for their community. But that changed when they took stock of the opportunities Northeast Ohio has to offer, not just for the people who live here, but for people from all over the world.
Channel 3 Anchor Russ Mitchell recently sat down with Ron to better understand his vision and purpose.
When the idea of an Olympic-class training facility comes to mind, few people might envision it in a place like idyllic Geneva, Ohio.
Ron Clutter sees things differently.
"Northeast Ohio is within 50 miles, 100 miles, 200 miles, 600 miles of two-thirds of the country's population. You could not have built a facility of this magnitude, found all the acreage in a major city," Ron said.
Hovering near the $100-million mark, the entrepreneur has contributed a good portion of that amount to build the sprawling 750,000-square-foot complex. The Clutters found opportunity and success in Ashtabula County. They believe it only fitting to give back.
"We want to share our success with those who have been part of helping groom us. And at the end of the day we feel like success, working hard brings results," Ron explained.
There have been hurdles: funding, and work that halted for a time on the aquatic center. Ron says those issues have been addressed and doesn't hesitate to talk about them when asked.
"It didn't stop us. It presented a challenge and you had to deal with a challenge. At the end of the day, we knew what needed to be done, and we dealt with it. Got the right people to deal with it and got over those hurdles," he said.
Ron often mentions those who share his vision and have helped Spire develop into a world-class facility.
The facility offers the best money can buy, from its state-of-the-art pool built for speed, to the indoor track and field that will host the NAIA Collegiate Championships this winter.
There is a lot of excitement, but what Ron hopes isn't lost is Spire's true purpose: as a place where anyone with the desire to improve their life can come and be inspired.
"If somebody is willing to walk in that door, if they are willing to take that step and come be a part of it, we will do everything we can for them to make it a good moment for them," he said.
Footnote: After our interview, we learned of some recent legal issues facing Mr. Clutter that are unrelated to the Spire Institute. He was recently charged with disorderly conduct with intoxication. The charge stems from an incident last month at an area golf course.
Ron Clutter entered a not guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge. An executive at the SPIRE institute issued a statement on Mr. Clutter's behalf, acknowledging the charges, stating that "Mr. Clutter is deeply embarrassed by the incident." It also says Mr. Clutter "will abide the instructions from the court to resolve the matter."