The Dollars and $ense of Meetings and Events
Events and meetings facilities play several different roles in our community. By hosting conventions and meetings, we generate taxes, individual spending, jobs and provide major economic impact to the benefit of our region.
According to the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (GLCVB), the Greater Lansing area welcomes close to 4.7 million visitors each year! These visitors spend money on transportation, both to get here and to get around. Visitors also inject new money into our economy by staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, shopping and visiting local attractions and events. Guests pay taxes on fuel, lodging, food and beverages, and much more, contributing an average of $3.7 million in local taxes and more than $23 million in state taxes annually.
The GLCVB estimates that through these actions $424 million is contributed to the local economy, equating to nearly $160 million in revenue for Greater Lansing residents. The area sustains more than 7,000 hospitality and tourism-centered jobs—a magnitude that brings top 10 classification for employment by industry.
In relation to facilities and events, operated specifically for the events and meetings industry, managed by Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA — which includes the Lansing Center, Cooley Law School Stadium, Lansing City Market and Common Ground Music Festival), the following reports our approximate direct regional economic impact for 2010:
• Lansing Center – 366,000 attendees at nearly 500 events produced an estimated economic impact of $60 million. Nearly 150 personnel are employed annually.
• Cooley Law School Stadium– 360,000 attendees produced an estimated economic impact of $12 million. Nearly 30 individuals annually and more than 150 seasonally are employed.
• Lansing City Market – 50,000 to 60,000 attracted annually to the year-round market which contributes almost $500,000 to economic activity, including housing nearly two dozen small businesses, totaling more than 40 employees.
• Common Ground Music Festival – 70,000 to 80,000 locals and visitors alike are attracted to our region for seven days of music. The well-established event produces an economic impact of nearly $5 million and several hundred temporary jobs.
In all, LEPFA specifically connects our region with nearly 800,000 visitors and attendees and creates an economic impact of close to $75 million while supporting 500 full- and part-time employees (equating to almost 20 percent of the total contributed to the region in each category).
Lansing Center itself continues to outperform industry standards for similar facilities in similar markets (according to 2010 PwC Convention Center Report). Occupancy at the Lansing Center exceeds similar industry standards by more than 12 percent, and attendance at Lansing Center events is nearly double that of similar market facilities. Lansing Center is able to do this all while maintaining similar size staff and budgets of facilities that host far fewer events. Likewise, Cooley Law School Stadium attracts crowds nearly comparable to minor league facilities in much larger markets. Even during the most recent economic struggles of our region, these facilities have produced numbers that, although perhaps diminished some compared to prior years, are still exceeding the industry standards and continue to be driving economic impact assets to our region.
This year marks Lansing Center’s 25th anniversary, and while the facility has seen a host of changes, a variety in type of events (circus, inaugurations, concerts, meetings, wedding receptions and so on), and millions of people through its doors, we will continue to strive to be an industry leader and economic generator for our area.
The continued success of the regional meetings and events industry relies on our earnestness to consider locally operated facilities as an option each and every time. It also relies on each and every member of this community to be destination ambassadors for our area. The Greater Lansing area has a host of distinguished meeting and event facilities. Each offers a wide range of options and accommodates every type of meeting or event. There are also a significant variety of other regional businesses providing meeting and event-support services. It is paramount that we first seek local businesses when planning events and meetings so dollars created stay within our region and continue to provide jobs locally.
This economic impact derived from the meetings and events industry goes directly to local budgets and businesses supporting further initiatives such as road repairs, public safety, schools and marketing our region as a place to visit, live and do business. The stronger our collective efforts become in attracting more meeting, event and convention business, the more it benefits the livelihood of our residents, our businesses and the Greater Lansing area as a whole.
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Scott Keith is president and CEO of Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA). LEPFA manages Lansing Center, Cooley Law School Stadium (home of the Lansing Lugnuts), and Lansing City Market; LEPFA proudly co-sponsors/produces the Common Ground Music Festival, BWL Down by the River Chili Cook-off, Healthy & Fit Magazine Expo and other various community events.