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University events attracting visitors and helping local economy
Events such as this 2017 performance by the Pittsburg State Wind Ensemble are one of many university activities that are boosting the local economy.   

University events attracting visitors and helping local economy

Susan Marchant may be the busiest professor this week on Pittsburg State’s campus. As chair of the Music Department, she’s preparing to host more than 2,000 of the region’s finest musicians at two separate music competitions over the next three days.  

And that’s after hosting more than 600 musicians last Saturday during the Kansas District Solo & Ensemble Festival.  

“It’s an exciting but exhausting time of year,” said Marchant. “We have 29 entries for Thursday’s Large Ensemble Festival and 80 entries for Saturday’s Mid-America Music Festival. Our faculty and our music students are really stepping up to make certain these events are a success.”  

These types of festivals are important recruiting opportunities for the university, but they’re also important economic opportunities for the community.  

Students, and the parents and teachers who travel to support them, are regular customers for area restaurants and retailers. More events means more visitors which, in turn, means more revenue for the region.  

The latest Pittsburg Micropolitan Area Economic Report showed sales tax collections up 5.4 percent during the first 11 months of 2017, and total room revenue for the first 10 months of 2017 up 25.3 percent.  

These types of figures show the importance of making certain visitors enjoy their time in the community. Devin Gorman, executive director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is helping area business owners put their best foot forward by making certain they have advance notice of community events like large music festivals. 

“We send out weekly e-mail updates and distribute quarterly event calendars,” said Gorman. “This helps managers plan their staffing and inventory to handle the influx of visitors. In some cases, we’ll even provide special gift bags for groups. We want to make certain visitors enjoy their time in Crawford County.” 

Pittsburg State hosts hundreds of academic and athletic events each year. The NCAA National Championships may be the most well-known, but the university’s music festivals, academic presentations, athletic games, concerts, and theatre productions attract tens of thousands of people to the city each year.  

In fact, the university welcomed 70 teams and more than 3,500 people to campus last weekend when it hosted a series of events including the second largest outdoor high school track & field meet in Kansas.  

Kadie James, general manager of Rib Crib, said her restaurant saw the impact of those events at their cash register. 

“We were very busy during the weekend,” said James. “Actually, more than we anticipated. We originally had the mindset that our business would be seasonal. That we’d be busy during the school year and then slower during the summer. But with all of the Pitt State and summer events, we’re pretty much busy year-round.”  

That type of experience is exactly what leaders at Pittsburg State believe will become more common in the future. 

“We’re at a great place in our community’s history,” said Shawn Naccarato, chief strategy officer for Pittsburg State. “We have the facilities, we have the hospitality, but most importantly we have the partners to be able to attract regional and national events to our campus. By working together with our city and our county, we’re helping those outside of our area discover what we’ve always known. There’s no better place to work, live and play than Pittsburg and Crawford County.” 

Pittsburg State will host the Kansas State Large Ensemble Festival all day on Thursday, April 19, and the Mid-America Music Festival all day on Saturday, April 21. Performances are open to the public and will be held at various locations on campus including the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall and the Overman Student Center.

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