May 26, 2017 12:00PM
B.J. Harris describes himself as a “happy guy.” It’s rare to see him without a smile on his face.
As the executive director of the Crawford Country Convention and Visitors Bureau, his smile is even wider this week with SAE Baja 2017 in town.
“I may be the happiest guy in town this week,” Harris said. “The energy and excitement that is seen throughout the community when Baja is in town is incredible.”
That energy and excitement carries with it a tremendous economic benefit for Pittsburg and the southeast Kansas region, Harris said. With more than 1,500 students and 110 teams from around the world in town from Thursday to Sunday, SAE Baja provides a valuable economic boost to the community.
“At a time when many Pittsburg State students have gone home for the summer, the Baja event truly does provide a tremendous boost to our local economy,” Harris said. “In 2014, the total event spending was more than $2.3 million dollars. That translates into total tax revenue of more than $630,000. We're expecting those numbers to be even larger this year.
“It’s really awesome to see our hotels full, our restaurants full, and some of our local retailers enjoying a nice boost in business this week,” he said. “The financial aspect of this Baja experience isn’t the most important part, of course, but we certainly can’t deny that the benefit is there.”
In a special gathering of all the teams Friday morning, Pittsburg State President Steve Scott welcomed the competitors to the campus and community.
“You’re going to find out very quickly that we are great hosts, we want you have a great time and we want you to be supported and appreciated,” Scott said. “I think you’ll see that throughout your time here in Pittsburg."