Visit Minot reports on impact of tourism program
Visit Minot reports on initiative’s first year
A new tourism program generated about $2.28 million in economic impact from sporting event recruitment this past year, according to information presented by Visit Minot to the Minot City Council Monday.
A year ago, the council approved $477,000 over three years to the Tourism Recovery and Resilience Project, which has a goal to generate $10 million in economic impact in Minot. Visit Minot Executive Director Stephanie Schoenrock reported on the first year’s efforts.
Sixteen organizations participated in marketing training provided by a trainer from Houston, Texas, through the program. Data also was collected that indicates where visitors come from, how much time they spend in Minot and where they visit and spend money in an effort to help Visit Minot with strategic decisions and targeted marketing.
The largest part of the project, though, has been the event recruitment, credited with $2.28 million in direct spending impact.
Council member Tom Ross questioned how much of the impact can be credited to Visit Minot.
“In all actuality, a lot of these things were happening well before. There has been some growth, but I’m still kind of looking at the $10 million at the end of the program,” he said.
Visit Minot Executive Director Stephanie Schoenrock said each organization would have to answer regarding the degree of impact, but a women’s hockey tournament would not have happened had Visit Minot not gone after it.
Support and direct economic impact credit to events this past year was as follows:
— $5,684 to the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Women’s Hockey Tournament, April 15-19; economic impact, $331,741.
— $7,000 to Magic City Youth Baseball, Midwest Regional Cal Ripken 10U Tournament, July 22-26; economic impact, $336,889.
— $3,000 to Minot Y’s Men, Professional Bull Riding Event, Oct. 1-2; economic impact, $399,011.
— Rodeo Minot, Badland’s Circuit Finals Rodeo, Barrels, Breakaway, Team Roping and Vendor Show, Oct. 8-10; economic impact, $864,224.
— $1,500 to National Dart Association Regional Tournament, Dec. 3-5; economic impact, $121,001 estimated.
— $4,000 to Laker Shootout Basketball Tournament, Dec. 4-5; economic impact, $236,000 estimated.
To qualify for funding, an event needed to be new or 30% larger than previous years. Funding is based on the percentage of people coming from outside Ward County and number of hotel room nights. Awards are determined by a six-member committee.
Committee member Rick Hedberg, vice president for advancement at Minot State University, said Minot needs to be at the top of its game to compete for sports tournaments, and the Event Recruitment Fund allows for that.
“It allows our event managers, whether it be a youth sport event or a rodeo or any event that qualifies here, to really roll out that red carpet and really take that event to the next level to allow managers or people that are hosting these events to increase the participation, increase the attendance and bring more people to Minot, to retain those events, so they come back the following year,” Hedberg said. “People are spending a massive amount of money on youth sports, not just in Minot but across the country. We have spent a massive amount of money in upgrading our facilities as a community, and we have to take advantage of those facilities. This fund allows us to do that.”
Committee member Thor Nelson, president of Minot Girls Fastpitch Softball, said the group’s summer tournament was a huge success in part due to the support of Visit Minot. The tournament has grown every year since it started in 2016, he said.
“Our tournament now brings in, every June, 600 to 700 young ladies to play softball, and their entire family comes with,” he said. “Having a successful tournament, we are now in the rotation for a Junior Olympics state tournament. We had one here in 2019 and had 69 teams in town for three days, and that comes out to about 800 girls plus their families in town.”
Gabriel Mejia, general manager at the Grand Hotel and Visit Minot board member, spoke about the direct economic impact to the community as well as hotels. He noted Minot is in position to service its visitors but the days of sitting back and waiting for them to arrive are past.
“We’ve actually got to get up and do some work, and some of that might take money,” he said.
Council member Stephan Podrygula said his goal for the program is not to subsidize an industry but to improve the quality of life. In that respect, and given the positive response by organizations to the marketing training, he is impressed with the tourism initiative, he said.
Council member Paul Pitner, a board member of Visit Minot, also defended the program.
“I hope that the community can see that the work being done by the City of Minot and by partnering with these community partners is really beneficial,” he said. “I look forward to supporting Visit Minot.”