Black College Reunion Brings Millions To Daytona Area, Expert Says
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.The Black College Reunion generates $145 million in economic activity for the Daytona Beach, Fla., region, according to an economist’s studies. The three-day event, which brings as many as 100,000 spring breakers from historically Black colleges across the nation, also supports the equivalent of 3,500 year-round jobs, economist Mark Soskin said earlier this month.However, money doesn’t make the event appealing for everyone. Soskin found that more than 14,000 residents leave town during the festival to escape traffic gridlock. Soskin, a University of Central Florida professor, outlined the results of his Black College Reunion cost-benefit analysis at a forum sponsored by local business leaders. Soskin presented similar reports last week on NASCAR events, Bike Week and Biketoberfest. The visitors attending the reunion spend $101 million at area businesses, Soskin says. That far outstrips the $32 million the area would get from tourists during a nonevent spring weekend. However, the exodus triggered by BCR is more than twice as large as the 5,300 residents who flee Bike Week, Soskin says. Fewer than 3,000 leave during Speed Weeks. The median age of reunion participants is 23 and more than three-fifths are men, Soskin’s study said. Only about 28 percent are college graduates while 38 percent are college students. “The result is a hybrid event of three distinct visitor types: graduates, students and neither,” Soskin says.The graduates spend the most money during the event, roughly $1,376 per person during the weekend, followed by college students who spend $917, while others typically spend $330. Looking to the future, Soskin said the event may have reached its saturation point. At the same time, he said, past debates over the costs associated with the event are a waste of time. For example, money paid to local police officers is money that stays in the community and helps officers whose regular salaries are relatively low, he says.He suggested the area would benefit more from joint planning and cost sharing among the coastal cities and Volusia County.
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