June 12, 2012
A religious conference is expected to edge out the sold out U.S. Air Force Marathon as the Greene County event with the largest economic impact.
For four weekends beginning Friday, the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses is expected to draw about 30,000 people to Wright State University’s Nutter Center and pump more than $14 million into the local economy.
“All the restaurants are just flooded,” said conference spokesman Robert Newbold. “We always wear our lapel cards to advertise the convention. We have a lot of people asking us about it in the restaurants and hotels.”
The U.S. Air Force Marathon impact also is very significant.
The Sept. 15 races are expected to attract about 30,100 runners and supporters from all around the country and world and make a $12.7 million local impact, said Allen D. Stebelton, sales manager for the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Any time you bring that many people into the area it is a big boost,” Stebelton said.
The impact estimates are calculated based partly on last year’s attendance. Those who travel more than two hours are more likely to stay in the area overnight, booking hotel rooms, eating at area restaurants and taking advantage of other amenities.
About 100 volunteers rally to deep clean the Nutter Center Thursday in preparation for the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention, which is entering its 17th year at the Nutter Center, Newbold said.
There will be 385 Jehovah’s Witnesses conferences throughout the country this summer with the theme “Safeguard Your Heart.”
The local conference is free and attended primarily by people from Kentucky, Indiana and throughout the state of Ohio, Newbold said.
“The people that come will enjoy it and they will end up talking to their neighbor about it and they won’t forget it,” he said.
The Winterguard World Championships makes a substantial economic impact in Greene and Montgomery counties.
Jacquie Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton/ Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the two-weekend competition with events in both counties attracts about 40,000 people and brings in about $15 million.
Her bureau counted 145 conferences, meetings and events in Montgomery County last year with a $70 million impact.
“These are dollars that are brought in (to the community),” she said. “We want to make sure they (visitors) have a great time so they want to come back.”
The Montgomery County figure includes Hamvention, which annually brings in about $10.5 million and attracts about 20,000 people. The Adidas Warrior Soccer Classic and CUSA Mead Soccer Tournament round out the top convention and events for the county.
Each attracts about 22,000 players and supporters and has an $8 million economic impact.
Officials in visitors bureaus in Miami and Warren County focus more directly on recreational activities than conferences, events and meetings.
The Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, Ohio Renaissance Festival, Western and Southern Open and Lebanon Horse-drawn Carriage Parade Festival have a combined $76.8 million economic impact, according to Phillip S. Smith, president and CEO of Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Diana Thompson, executive director for Miami County Visitors Bureau, said tourism brings in an estimated $117 million into that county annually.
“Tourism is a strong economic driver for a lot of communities in this country,” she said. “We do all we can to capture those dollars.”