December 14, 2017 2:45PM
Those findings are part of the quarterly Pittsburg Micropolitan Area Economic Report released this week by Michael Davidsson, an assistant professor in PSU's Department of Economics, Finance and Banking; it paints a bright picture of the Pittsburg Leisure & Hospital Industry.
The release came just as staff at the Robert W. Plaster Center were wrapping up the Crimson & Gold Invitational Indoor Track and Field event and beginning to look ahead to the 2018 MIAA Championship and the NCAA Division II Championship — all events that bring hundreds of visitors to town. The NAIA Championships March 1-3 will bring approximately 1,200 athletes.
The $13 million, 154,000-square-foot Plaster Center, completed in Spring 2015 as a joint venture between the City of Pittsburg, Crawford County, and PSU, includes a 100-yard turf field and one of only six university-owned 300-meter tracks in the nation, with seating for up to 1,500.
Devin Gorman, executive director of the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the facility has put Pittsburg and Crawford County on the national radar for sporting events that result in tens of thousands of visitors to the area.
"The Plaster Center has been fantastic for bringing events to the area," Gorman said. "It has been an incredible boon for our community. Having the ability to host the national indoor track and field championships for the NCAA Division II, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the National Junior College Athletic Association has been unbelievable. Needless to say, it's provided a very substantial economic impact for our area.”
David Craig, former general manager for Comfort Inn & Suites, said the hotel has seen a growth of nearly 1,000 room nights from events at the Plaster, and an increase in revenue of more than $100,000. That means job security for his employees, he said, and has allowed the owners to make renovations.
Patty Matson, former general manager of Lamplighter Inn & Suites, and LaWana Johnson, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express, both said the Plaster has resulted in increased room sales for them, including by several teams — particularly during the winter when business slows.
Also drawing significant amounts of visitors each year are the Baja Invitational, held at PSU in 2011, 2014, and 2017, and now scheduled for 2018 and 2020. This year, it drew more than 105 teams and more than 1,500 students from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, and South Africa.
And, PSU's Fall and Spring Commencements draw hundreds of visitors who watch friends and family members graduate, and often stay at least one night. This week, they'll be here on Friday for ceremonies at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Now, Pittsburg has more rooms available to accommodate them. Earlier this year, 123 additional hotel rooms came online this year with the addition of the Hampton Inn & Suites at the newly-opened Kansas Crossing Casino, and 72 are slated to come online soon with the opening of the La Quinta Inn & Suites under construction. Signet Coffee Roasters plans to open an Airbnb in June 2018.
It's no surprise, then, that Davidsson's report also shows that the fastest growing industry in Pittsburg during the second quarter was Leisure and Hospitality, up 10.3 percent from the second quarter of 2016. The same industry posted a payroll increase of 35.9 percent from the second quarter of 2016 — also due to the casino, Davidsson said.
All told, the local lodging industry sold 77,634 room nights — up 21.4 percent.
"This all has a significant ripple effect for the economy," he said. "People who are visiting and staying the night must be spending money."
The report's findings back up that sentiment: Sales tax collections are at record levels in the Pittsburg Micropolitan Area, increasing to a record $9.1 million during the first 11 months of 2017, up 5.4 percent from the same period last year. A portion of sales tax collections fund street improvements.
"Never in the history of this report have they taken in such revenue. Obviously, this will impact the City," Davidsson said.
Jobs are growing faster in Pittsburg than statewide and nationally, according to figures from the first and second quarters of 2017. During the second quarter, the number of jobs in Pittsburg increased 1.7 percent from the second quarter of 2016. In comparison, jobs declined statewide by 0.5 percent, and nationally increased 1.4 percent. By industry, local jobs grew most in the area of Leisure & Hospitality, with 2,105 jobs, for an increase of 10.3 percent according to the report.
Davidsson said total quarterly payroll in Pittsburg increased 5.3 percent.
"Household finances are seen to be improving. Bankruptcy is declining. All in all, it's good news," he said.
Home sales also are up significantly, with 402 homes sold during the first three quarters of 2017 — an increase of 16.9 percent from last year and well above the 4.6 percent increase nationally. Home sales decreased statewide by 4.6 percent. Homes also are selling faster in Pittsburg, with the median home selling in 87 days, down from 104 days last year.
Other data shows that household income has risen in Pittsburg by 11 percent since 2010, well above the 4.4 percent increase statewide and 5.2 percent increase nationally.
"The economic development work done by the City and the Pittsburg State through its University Strategic Initiatives unit is paying off," Davidsson said. "We're getting better jobs and more people are entering the labor force."
Blake Benson, executive director of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, who also heads up the City's economic development, said the report is not only a pleasant one, it's valuable.
"The reason Dr. Davidsson's work is so important is that businesses of all kinds, from retailers, to manufacturers, use data in their decision-making process," Benson said. "Statistical data showing Pittsburg is a great place to do business is the most effective tool we have."
To view the report in its entirety, along with breakout charts in each featured area of analysis and past reports, visit