By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
Tourism has become big business in Madison County and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino is the star attraction.
That’s the conclusion of a recent report from the Anderson/Madison County Visitors & Convention Bureau, which looked at the economic impact of the tourism and travel industry here in 2008 and 2010.
Among the report’s key findings were that:
Tourism and travel contributed nearly $506 million to the local economy in 2010.
A total of 3,821 jobs exist here because of the industry.
Nearly one-third of them are high-wage earners, professionals, technicians, managers, sales and construction jobs.
Tourism-generated jobs provided more than $68.6 million in wages to Madison County workers in 2010, compared to $62.9 million in 2008.
More than 3.9 million people made Madison County a tourism destination in 2010, compared to 2.2 million in 2008, the year when the casino opened.
Tourism generated $22.9 million in revenue for county and municipal governments in 2010, compared to $14.8 million in 2008.
The report, prepared by Certec Inc., a market research company based in Versailles, Ky., concluded that “tourism impacts all sectors of the local economy.”
“The takeaway is that there has been an accelerated rate of change in tourism and its impact on economic development,” and George Vinson, incoming president of the visitors bureau board of directors.
Ralph Day, executive director of the visitors bureau, said the 2008 and 2010 study years were chosen specifically to look at the impact a casino would have at Hoosier Park.
“It has really made Anderson a destination,” Day said.
And Hoosier Park has been a terrific corporate citizen, he added.
Since the casino opened in June 2008, the complex has averaged 3.5 million visitors a year, said Grant D. Scharton, Hoosier Park’s director of public relations He also noted that the Indianapolis Business Journal has named it the Indianapolis area’s most popular tourist attraction.
“Hoosier Park Racing and Casino is very pleased with the response in the central Indiana region and the tourists who come and visit the casino,” he said.
Tourism and community amenities such as Hoosier Park are an essential component of economic development efforts, said Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development.
“I think that tourism is a really important part of branding our community,” he said.
Watch for a cyclone of dust and drive found only on Hoosier Park’s oval of speed!
Once again the Fab Five Standardbred Drivers return to Hoosier Park for an unforgettable Standardbred meet. This year will be a tough one for the celebrity drivers as Peter The Wolf Wrenn returns the reigning champion and three new challengers enter the fight.
Trent Stohler, aka The Bachelor, will catch your eye at first glance. Blessed with good looks and style, Stohler is sought after both on and off the track. Brandon Big Ticket Bates earned his title because he’s never afraid to take on a long shot or a hard-to-handle horse and drive it to the wire. Most of Brandon’s winners pay double digits. Outlaw Josh Sutton brings passion and intensity to the sport of Standardbred racing. Josh was on a winning streak in 2006 before he headed West. He returns to Hoosier Park determined and ready to reclaim his territory.
Check back throughout the season for special guest updates from drivers and the latest information on the 2011 Hoosier Park Racing & Casino Standardbred Season!