Events held at the two major venues run by the Kentucky State Fair Board are paying large economic dividends, a new study has found, according to a report in the Louisville Courier Journal.
Combined activity in 2005 at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center – the annual venue for the National RV Trade Show, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) – and the downtown Kentucky International Convention Center generated about $453 million for the local economy, a 6.4% increase over the last study, done in 2001.
The figures “tell us there is a lot of strength in the market for trade show and convention activity,” said Harold Workman, the board’s president.
He said the numbers show that a $152 million state investment in the past decade in facilities run by the fair board has been prudent.
To further support the study’s findings, a recent list in the industry publication Trade Show Week indicated that Louisville was the host city for five of the 25 largest trade shows in the country last year in terms of square footage used.
Those five were: International Construction and Utility Equipment Expo (third); Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (ninth); Mid-America Trucking Show (18th); International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Expo (19th); and Midwest Manufactured Housing show (25th).
Workman said several factors probably kept the economic figures from being even better. He noted that travel was hurt by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that companies have cut back on trade-show spending in tight economic times.
The fair board paid about $30,000 to the University of Louisville to do the study, conducted primarily by Paul Coomes, an economics professor, and Barry Kornstein, a senior economics analyst for the school.
According to the report, out-of-town visitors rented nearly 778,000 room-nights at area hotels. That business alone generated $26 million in state taxes, an 8% increase from 2001, and $6.9 million in taxes for local government, about 20% more than the 2001 figure, the study says.
The two centers played host to 16 national events in 2005, up from 11 major events in 2001. Many of those change their location every year. New events held in Louisville in 2005 included the Dew Action Sports Tour and the World Series of Video Games.
Coomes concluded that the fair board facilities are competitive with those in many larger cities, including Dallas, Denver and Kansas City, Mo.