Between $250,000 and $500,000 was injected into the regional economy by the Fort La Présentation Association’s Founder’s Day Weekend, July 16-18, 2010, according to Association President Barbara O’Keefe. The financial impact was made by the 3,000 visitors and 700 re-enactors who came to Ogdensburg to commemorate the last Battle of the French and Indian War.
In an exit survey conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors were asked to estimate their expenditures related to the event in terms of transportation, meals and beverages, accommodation, and all other expenses.
Harold G. Needham, a consultant to the Fort La Présentation Association, designed the survey, analyzed the data and wrote the report. He took a very conservative approach. Needham disregarded the high-end estimates of the dollar value in each expenditure range selected by respondents; he also disregarded estimates exceeding 50 percent of the dollar range selected by respondents in each expenditure category.
“I deliberately undervalued event organizers’ estimates of numbers of visitors and gave a zero value to the estimates of people who didn’t respond to the economic impact questions in the survey,” Needham said. “I believe my estimated range of total expenditures errs, if at all, in underestimating the economic impact of the event.”
As to the infusion of visitors’ cash Needham wrote, “While most of this would have been spent in the immediate area, some of it impacted on the economy elsewhere in the state and nation, and a very small part in adjacent areas of Canada.”
The survey did not ask about money spent on groceries, but found from $75,000 to $150,000 was spent on meals and beverages and $31,000 to $63,000 on accommodation. Visitors’ transportation expenses infused between $68,000 and $136,000 and from $77,000 to $154,000 flowed into all other expenses.
“As the Founder’s Day Weekend re-enactment and colonial trade fair has grown over the years, we have assumed a significant amount of money is spent locally by the visitors and re-enactors,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “We decided this year, when we hosted New York State’s final 250th anniversary commemoration of the French and Indian War, would be a good opportunity to gauge the potential economic impact of this tourist-focused event, and we have been pleasantly surprised.”
This is the second survey conducted for the Fort Association to get a profile of the visitors and their responses to Founder’s Day Weekend activities. However, this is the first look at what the weekend can pump into the economy.
“We know people spent money getting here. Some traveled lengthy distances to get to our re-enactment and colonial trade fair, and some who were here to visit family took in the event,” said O’Keefe. “Regardless, local motels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other business saw trade directly linked to Founder’s Day Weekend, and we are very pleased to have helped contribute to their bottom lines.”
Re-enactors and others who brought the mid-18th century to life put their dollars into the local economy. They arrived in Ogdensburg one, two or more days before the Friday opening and some did not leave until Monday.
In addition, St. Lawrence County and the City of Ogdensburg benefit from their share of the sales tax collected by local merchants.
As of the end of September 2010, the financial statements of the Fort La Présentation Association indicate almost $59,000 had been spent in the local economy on the event. When bills yet to be received are paid, the total will rise to at least $60,000, giving the event a total economic impact of between $300,000 and $550,000
“The major events hosted by the Fort translate into enough additional business for our restaurant that we can do improvements that we otherwise could not afford,” said Deb Janson, owner of the Freight House Restaurant. “The Fort brings in the additional customer base that establishments like ours really need to move ahead.”
Of the visitors to Founder’s Day Weekend, 61.7 percent live in St. Lawrence County and another 18.9 percent elsewhere in New York State; 11.7 percent came from other U.S. states and 7.6 percent from Canada.