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NASCAR and Economic Development -- The view of other communities

Several weeks ago, KEDC staff members conducted telephone interviews with economic development officials in nine communities with speedways that host one or more NEXTEL cup races. The purpose of the phone calls was to ascertain the economic development impact that these speedways and NASCAR races have on their respective communities.

We sorted the speedway communities into three ownership categories — six that are owned by International Speedway Corporation ; two owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. ; and one controlled by the Mattioli family. The communities contacted include:

  • Will County Center for Economic Development
  • Nevada Development Authority
  • City of Avondale
  • Vision Council — Homestead, Fla.
  • Pocono Mountains Industries — Monroe County, Penn.
  • Sullivan County Economic Development Commission — Bristol, Tenn.
  • City of Fontana — Fontana, Calif.
  • Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development — Schuyler County, NY
  • Enterprise Group of Jackson, Inc. — Jackson County, Mich.

Many of the questions we asked dealt with impacts and the relationship between speedway owners and the host community. We also explored how communities leveraged the speedway and NEXTEL races for purposes of local business development, marketing, and business attraction.

Most communities felt that local track management was responsive to community concerns and quite willing to work with business and community leaders. Comments like “good corporate citizen” and “friend to the community” were made often, regardless of track ownership.

When asked about using the speedways as a recruitment tool, most stated they had not considered this approach. Several of the communities were open to working with track owners and other track communities in developing a marketing approach for recruitment. This is an area the Kitsap EDC has identified as a strong asset for Kitsap’s economic development future.

Three of the communities are experiencing rapid growth in the vicinity of their speedway but were unable to directly attribute such growth to the presence of the track. All agreed, however, that the media coverage associated with NEXTEL racing has far-reaching impacts that cannot readily be identified.

Several of the agencies interviewed that currently have a marketing program use their speedway as a community asset and identity tool. In some instances, the speedway is used as a showpiece when working with site consultants and recruitment target companies.

Will County Center for Economic Development noted the new tracks are something to behold. They strongly encouraged that communities use them as a backdrop and utilize them as a huge anchor tenant.

The City of Avondale noted that the industrial and commercial development around the track is similar to that in airport business parks . They noted, “The track has brought us lots of wonderful visibility and that’s part of our success.”

“We can identify 15+ businesses that are located in the area because they were first exposed to the community by attending a race at the track,” stated the representative from Pocono Mountains Industries. They also said, “We have met numerous companies that are here because they were attracted by the track.” The Sullivan County Economic Commission noted, “This has been good for us in terms of economic development.”

When discussing the potential of utilizing the speedway as a recruitment tool and leverage point in reaching race sponsors, the Enterprise Group of Jackson observed that, “We may be missing an opportunity you’ve identified.” SCOPED noted that, “We can’t think of any negatives and can’t think why anyone would be opposed.”

Herein lies an opportunity for Kitsap County to get ahead of the marketing and business attraction curve. To this end KEDC recently completed work on a “Speedway Economic Development Opportunity Analysis.” This analysis can serve as a foundation for more comprehensive planning should the project be approved for construction in Kitsap County. It is available online at www.kitsapedc.org.

We are also exploring opportunities for a more extensive collaboration with economic development professionals in several of the above communities on the development of marketing and business attraction strategies.

 
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Kathy Cocus's picture
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