Tourism dollars a big boost for Nash

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It’s no secret that economic development recruiters in the Twin Counties dream of a major retailer or even an outlet mall one day at a yet-to-be-built interchange connecting Sunset Avenue to Interstate 95. A new study from the N.C. Department of Commerce offers some pretty convincing numbers to back those hopes.

Nash County already is 15th in the state in terms of attracting revenue from tourists and other travelers. Visitors to Nash County in 2012 spent $256.8 million during their stay. That’s more than the total number of visitor dollars spent in Wilson County ($102.48 million) and Edgecombe County ($53.56 million) combined. It’s even more than the amount of travel revenue received by Pitt County ($199.67 million), despite Pitt County being home to East Carolina University and its highly popular football program.

All of those travel and tourism dollars help employ more than 2,870 people in related jobs, according to the Department of Commerce. Nash County received $19.81 million in tax revenue from travelers in 2012.

A popular saying in economic development goes, “If you build it, they will come.” But as the numbers clearly show in the case of Nash County, “they” are here already.

The Rocky Mount Sports Complex, the Imperial Centre, the revitalized downtown, N.C. Wesleyan College, good roads and good ol’ hospitality all play a role in making the Rocky Mount area a favorite destination or stopover.

Now, to find more major retailers who recognize the richness of what is already here.