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Visit Michigan City La Porte CVB reports most successful Grand Prix

October 30, 2017 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY – As the popularity of Michigan City’s Great Lakes Grand Prix powerboat race grows, so does its impact on the local economy, with this year’s event bringing more people and dollars into the community than ever before, according to a report released by the Visit Michigan City La Porte CVB.

The four-day event, held Aug. 3-6, generated more than $10.7 million for La Porte County’s economy from non-local visitors alone, with three-quarters of expenditures going to food, beverages, shopping and transportation, according to Certec Inc., a marketing analysis group based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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The organization, recognized as a leader in providing economic impact studies on tourism-related events, compiles the report for the Visit Michigan City La Porte CVB each year.

“The impact of this race on our community is off the charts,” said Jack Arnett, executive director of Visit Michigan City La Porte, noting that the economic impact was up by more than a million dollars from last year.

Total attendance, compiled from a variety of sources, was estimated at more than 150,000 for all the weekend events, with 80,000 people attending the races alone.

“Bringing this race to Michigan City was the best decision we have made," Arnett said. "We couldn’t do it without our sponsors, especially Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa.”

The Certec report showed that economic benefits reached a large cross-section of La Porte County. Jobs generated by the event itself provided nearly $2.4 million in wages to La Porte County workers. More than a half million dollars in tax revenues generated by visitors went into local coffers.

In addition, the study noted, “Great Lakes Grand Prix visitor spending stimulates non-tourist businesses.” Increased demand for hotel rooms, restaurant meals and other services brings added business to areas such as agriculture, food processing, brewing and distilling, the report said.

The report noted that tourism is a key component of the La Porte County economy, with that industry “generating more than $680 million in economic impact for the county in 2016. The county’s festivals and events are an important part of the local tourism industry.” The CVB plays a key role in attracting these events, Arnett noted, with the Grand Prix as a prime example.

It all started nearly 10 years ago, when the CVB was looking for an event to showcase Michigan City and its lakefront, Arnett said.

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“We researched promoters and went with Super Boat International – the premiere promoter in the industry,” he said.

The city’s location on the shore of Lake Michigan made it an ideal spot for a stop on the summer-long circuit of Super Boat International, often referred to as the NASCAR of powerboat racing. In addition to the high-speed action on the water, a host of activities take place inland, including a boat parade, bands, vendors and the Taste of Michigan City event.

“Now this is our signature event for La Porte County,” Arnett said, adding that planning and securing sponsorships is a year-long process that includes ongoing marketing and promoting for the Grand Prix, as well as securing vendors and lodging.

In the end, it all pays off.

“All hotels are full during and around the event, and we farm out rooms to neighboring counties,” Arnett said.

He adds that Michigan City’s location is a tremendous plus for attracting events like the Grand Prix and tourists in general.

“Having Indiana’s Ocean in our backyard allows us to broaden our outreach into other parts of the county,” he said.

With the Great Lakes Grand Prix’s 10th anniversary on the horizon in 2018, Arnett and his staff are already involved in planning.

“We expect next year’s race to be even bigger and better,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

— From staff reports