Tourism creates positive economic impact on Greater Lima Region

Tourism brings visitors, economic benefit to region

By Camri Nelson -

Ryan McCormick, a Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree participant of 22 years, polishes his car before the three-day weekend event Thursday at the Allen County Fairgrounds.

Ryan McCormick, a Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree participant of 22 years, polishes his car before the three-day weekend event Thursday at the Allen County Fairgrounds.

LIMA — Events like this weekend’s Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree have a continual impact on the Greater Lima Region as they attract an influx of tourists each year, making a positive impact on the local economy.

For the past 20 years, Ryan McCormick, of Coshocton, has been participating in the Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree. From the first day he attended the event, he was hooked.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But I loved it and haven’t missed one since.”

Each year he and some of the friends, some of whom he met over the years while at the competition, drive the three or so hours together to attend.

“The first few years you come, and you get to talking and meeting new people,” he said. “The friends that I meet here I end up keeping in touch with and we text throughout the winter to see how the trucks are coming along.”

While in town, McCormick typically stays at the Hampton Inn on Roschman Avenue, which he really enjoys, and usually dines in at the Texas Roadhouse.

McCormick is one of approximately 2,000 plus participants who comes to Lima each year and spends money on hotels, food, entertainment, and more. Approximately 25,000 attendees are expected to attend the event the event this year.

The event typically generates over $6.5 million each year for Allen County, according to Visit Greater Lima Region Executive Director Christine Pleva.

“Tourism is important for the community and everyone around us because hotels are being sold out, people will being dining in, they’ll be spending money on gas and possibly going shopping,” said Allen County Fairgrounds General Manager Bob Fricke. “That is why events are pivotal for the kind of influx out-of-town tourism has here.”

The Indianapolis, Indiana-based company Family Events puts on the Jamboree each year and has continued to host the event in Lima because of the support the community, according to Vice President of Marketing and Communications Matthew Louck.

“It takes a special place because you can’t just do [the Jamboree] anywhere,” said Louck. “You have to be embraced by the city, which takes an effort from entities like the hotels and businesses. If the town embraces it, there is a greater economic impact that these kind of events make on a city and community.”

Allen County Fairgrounds

The ticket revenue generated from events like the Jamboree, as well as the annual Allen County Fair, which generates the biggest revenue, the Lima Half Mile, the Rebel Run, the Jr. Angus Nationals, Max’s Trader Days and concerts has helped the fairgrounds thrive over the years, according to Fricke.

“In order for us to operate and to complete projects like painting our grandstand, we rely heavily on the year-round and fair revenue,” said Fricke.

Fricke said that having a good rapport with the Lima-area hotels, Veterans Memorial Civic Center and Visit Greater Lima has been essential to promoting tourism in the area.

“We have a great relationship with our hotels who we work closely with and meet with bi-monthly,” said Fricke. “They are in tune with what events are going on here. I know that the hotels and Visit Greater Lima are instrumental when booking events.”

The Allen County Fairgrounds has events going on 45 weeks out of the year, with not only national or annual events, but also events like weddings.

“Any time we can expose tourists to our facility and our area we do,” said Fricke. “The exposure is the greatest thing because it’s an opportunity for people to see us and become repeat visitors and, hopefully, repeat bookings.”

Visit Greater Lima

For Pleva, marketing is the best way to attract people to Allen County.

“We have convention and visitor bureaus around the region in different counties because the need is there,” said Pleva. “There is so much marketing that needs to be done to bring visitors into the community. When those groups come into the community, they bring the dollars with them.”

Tourism is a huge stimulant in any community because it allows that community to showcase what it has to offer as far as events, venues, meeting places, restaurants and points of interests, according to Pleva.

“All of those things get people to come here and hopefully while here they will enjoy their stay and either want to stay longer or come back to visit,” she said.

Pleva believes that before someone is willing to move to a community, perhaps for a job, they will want to visit the community first. Visit Greater Lima is one of the first organizations that people reach out to when making a job decision or deciding to relocate, she said.

When bringing new people in the community, Pleva informs them about the Allen County Museum, which she said is the number one attraction in the area based off of the attendance volume and the interest of organizers and groups.

Places like Artspace/Lima, the Delphos Canal Museum, the Delphos Museum of Postal History, the Civic Center and Amil Tellers-Encore Theatre are also recommended by Visit Greater Lima to visit.

Recreational activities like swimming at various pools or at the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park, golfing at various golf courses or attending a program at the Lima Public Library are also suggested.

“These places are important, not only for people who live in the community, but for visitors who may be here and need something to do,” said Pleva. “There are a variety of things to do that we don’t even think about that are in our backyard.”

Every other year, Visit Greater Lima participates in a study through the State of Ohio’s Department of Travel and Tourism along with Longwoods International, a marketing company that evaluates the factors involved with tourism.

Through the study, they found that Allen County’s direct sales from visitors spent on hotels, restaurants and retail centers amounted to approximately $315 million, according to Pleva.

“Tourism is one of the most well hidden, yet very important, economic generators in the community,” she said.

Greater Grand Lake Visitors Region

Tourism is vital to communities because it brings funding to the region and is also an economic development driver, according to Greater Grand Lake Visitors Region Executive Director Donna Grube.

“It not only brings people and their money to the area, but it also can lead to economic development,” said Grube. “This will cause people to want to move into the area to start a company, go to college or retire.”

As far as main attractions to visit while in Auglaize and Mercer County, Grube suggests visiting Grand Lake St. Marys, which she said attracts a lot of boats and fishing tournaments.

There are also heritage sites like the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon next year. There is also the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen and the Fort Recovery Museum.

Those who are looking for religious attractions should visit the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in Maria Stein. There is also the St. Charles Center in Celina, which is a former seminary.

Aside from recreational and heritage recreational tourism, Grube suggests that visitors attend the Celina Lake Festival from July 27 to 29. This year, the festival will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the amphicars, a vehicle that functions as a automobile and boat. For the anniversary the amphicar, riders are looking to break the Guinness World Record by having the most amphicars ever in one place. Organizers expect to have anywhere between 75 to 100 amphicars at the festival, and rides will be given out to the public.

Another large event is the Maria Stein Country Festival from June 22 to 23. There will be tractor square dancing and great food and music, according to Grube.

Allen Economic Development Group

Allen Economic Development Group Director of Business Development Cindy Leis, agrees that tourism has a significant impact on recruiting people for jobs in Allen County.

“Lima/Allen County has a lot to offer as far as bringing people in from the outside,” said Leis. “It’s great that we have amenities for our local folks, but we are trying to attract new people here through our events and programs. Hopefully they will realize that this is a great place to live and take advantage of the tons of jobs that are available.”

Leis and group of other stakeholders in the community were initially working on a communication plan that would help with attracting people to the area. An essential part of that communication plan involved an OEA grant that provided them with the opportunity to invest in an public outreach initiatives like

On the web portal visitors discover more about what is offered in the Lima/Allen County area, the importance of community and family, and learn more about the industry and the roots in agriculture.

“We realized that we needed to overcome a perception problem,” said Leis. “We know that those who live and work here know that there are a lot of great things going on in the Lima/Allen County area, but we know we are reaching a broader audience.”

Through another web portal,, visitors can discover more about the assets of the area such as jobs and industry.

“Once we can get people here and enjoy some of the attractions like our fairgrounds and our Civic Center, I think we will be able to better recruit others to the area,” she said. “I think that once we can attract people through some of those events they will begin to get a better feel about our community and they may change their mind about taking a job and living here.”

Ryan McCormick, a Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree participant of 22 years, polishes his car before the three-day weekend event Thursday at the Allen County Fairgrounds. McCormick, a Lima 4-Wheel Jamboree participant of 22 years, polishes his car before the three-day weekend event Thursday at the Allen County Fairgrounds.
Tourism brings visitors, economic benefit to region

By Camri Nelson

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews

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