Clark County is seeing its tourism industry grow according to a recently released economic report. The study done by Oxford Economics reveals that tourism contributes almost $368 million per year to the county's economy.
Chris Schutte, of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, released the findings of the study which shows an increase of $42 million since 2011. He feels there are a few key factors involved with the financial improvement.
"Over the past couple of years we've seen upticks in things like business travel for, let's say, training for some of our larger headquarter companies like Navistar, Konecranes, CodeBlue, Speedway," Schutte said. "They've generated a lot business. And I think we have also seen an uptick in convention business here through our marketing of our National Road Convention District. And really our third component is just leisure travel."
Schutte said that a concerted effort by city officials to re-brand Springfield as a destination area has been mildly successful. One setback has been the Upper Valley Mall, which opened in 1971, and is one of the largest sources of sales tax revenue for the county.
Wells Fargo Bank has filed a complaint in court stating the mall should be placed in receivership because it can’t pay off the balance on a near $48 million loan. Schutte however, doesn't believe the mall's doors will close anytime soon.
"Perhaps the mall's imminent closing is a little bit overstated. I think really the mall has a fairly healthy mix of merchants out there right now. And I think, especially with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery having recently been added to the mall, I think you are starting to see some increased traffic out there," Schutte said. "So I think, really what we are talking about there are more financial wrangling then anything else."
Officials from the mall and Wells Fargo would not comment since the matter is still in litigation.