EASLEY—Local officials estimate hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent in the area this week and next week as a direct result of the Big League World Series in Easley, but business and city leaders say the dividends from the baseball tournament include more than just the money spent while the teams are in town.
“There is a dollar amount and it is very important in a small town where the recession has been a hard on a lot of people,” said Kelly Hunt of Kelly’s Family Pharmacy in Easley, one of four Presenting Sponsors for the series this year. “But the impact is deeper than that. It is an investment in the lives of these kids.”
Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell estimated that about $300,000 will be spent in local businesses from Clemson to Greenville during the Big League World Series. Bagwell added that the 250 tournament volunteers also helps the city in the long term.
“There is no doubt about it,” Bagwell said about the importance of the volunteer force. “If people stay local and stay involved, we hope to reap some of the benefits of that.”
Hunt said Clemson University will be doing a study during this year’s Big League World Series, asking people who attend the tournament the amount of money spent. That information will be used to get a better idea of the economic impact the World Series brings to the area.
“It is not a money-making thing for us,” Hunt said. “We get to be a small part of the stories of the kids who come here. It is an investment. That’s the story that I’ve shared with business leaders. “We do have money making opportunities, but the intangibles are important. We are supporting a dream for these kids.”
Mike Dosher of Dosher Physical Therapy agreed the bigger picture of the impact of the tournament is most important.
“For us, there is not a direct impact, more of an indirect impact,” said Dosher. “I think the exposure to Easley and what this beautiful town has to offer reaps benefits. “People in Easley will give you the shirt off their backs if they think you need it.
Hunt and Dosher are presenting sponsors along with the City of Easley and the Ogletree Deekins Law Firm. It is the first time a group of businesses has joined together to be the major sponsors of the Big League World Series in Easley.
“Mike Dosher and I became aware that the tournament no longer had a presenting sponsor,” Hunt said. “We began to look at how smaller businesses could come together to build that major sponsorship, building it from the ground up. We are on the same page that it is more of a benefit for the city than for our businesses personally. We want to keep it here.”
Dosher said he expects more businesses to join in as presenting sponsors in future years.
“I think we will be able to involve more businesses as more people know the value of it,” Dosher said. “It gives exposure to a quality product (the tournament).”
Hunt called the World Series “a unique opportunity” for local businesses, especially with the championship game being broadcast live on ESPN each year.
“It is important that small businesses can come together and the exposure we do get is fantastic,” he said. “We can put our best foot forward and hopefully other businesses will want to participate. From a business perspective it is worth more than putting a billboard on a highway.”
Cindy Hopkins, President of the Easley Chamber of Commerce, says the tournament provides many benefits for local businesses.
“Obviously, from a chamber perspective, we are interested in business growth and economic development,” Hopkins said. “The Big League World Series is a very welcomed positive experience in terms of the revenue it generates from hotel nights, restaurant and gasoline revenues and just people moving around in the city.”