Columbia County chalks up economic wins from sporting events

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Tuesday night, the Columbia County’s Board of Commission agreed to host the BMX Regional Championships at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans this September.

If you’re not familiar it’s a type of off-road sport using specialized bikes. This is just one of many sporting events the county has hosted recently from soccer to bass fishing. We reached out to see how these types of events are impacting local businesses.

Columbia County keeps picking up big events, and this is another one. Projections say there could be more than 500 riders on this track. Thousands of spectators. And what that means is more than a quarter-million dollars in economic impact.

“For so many people to come out, and watch, and know about this sport, it’s pretty cool,” said Samantha Williamson, No. 1 ranked girls BMX rider in Georgia.

It’s pretty cool for our local BMX riders. They get to compete for a championship on their home turf. And for Columbia County, it’s another major event.

“In general, events and athletics and tournaments have been record numbers,” said John Luton, Director of Community Services in Columbia County.

Luton says the county’s sports tourism industry has benefitted from COVID. With fewer restrictions in Georgia, they’ve been able to pick up events from other states like a pair of soccer tournaments in the spring that generated more than a million in economic impact.

“And you start to host event after event after event, those things add up, and it’s a legitimate impact,” said Luton.

“We’ve seen a rise of events, and those economic impact numbers are certainly following,” said Shelly Blackburn, Executive Director of Columbia County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Blackburn says having extra visitors staying in our hotels, going to our restaurants, and businesses makes a big difference.

“They are what we like to call temporary taxpayers, so they’re coming in, they’re paying that money, but then they’re going back home, and they’re not taxing our infrastructure, here, so what that means for us as residents is, lower taxes,” said Blackburn.

Back on the track, they’re excited to compete against people from so many different states here at home.

“I’m happy that we have it here. I think it’s gonna be a big advantage for me and I’m looking to get first here,” said Cannon Joyner, 10 years in BMX.

Columbia County also approved another event today. They’re hosting a bass fishing tournament this fall.

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