LAPORTE | The recent Maple City Grand Prix provided a $1 million economic shot in the arm for LaPorte, with visitors primarily coming from the region.
That's according to the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which hired a private firm, Certec Inc. of Versailles, Ky., to conduct an economic impact study of the race that featured tunnel boats that can travel more than 100 mph and turn on the dime.
The study found $1 million dollars was spent at local businesses and 15,000 people attended during the three days of time trials and racing on Stone Lake May 31 through June 2.
"It really is kind of what we were looking for," said Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The study also found 76 percent of the people who attended were from LaPorte and surrounding counties.
The remainder of the visitors were from states as close as Michigan and Wisconsin and as far away as Texas and Florida.
The study also found the event produced $122,000 in taxes and $106,000 in wages.
LaPorte City Councilman Ron McAtee said he was pleased with the results.
"That's $1 million we did not have. It's like finding a million dollars laying on the sidewalk. You can't beat that," said McAtee.
The much larger Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City has generated a $6 million to $7 million economic impact from the 100,000 or more people attending each year, authorities there have said.
Arnett said that's to be expected given the amount of people the Lake Michigan shoreline at Washington Park can accommodate, compared with the much smaller size of Stone Lake.
This year's Great Lakes Grand Prix featuring much larger and faster power boats is scheduled Aug. 1-4.
Arnett said plans are to have the Maple City Grand Prix back next year.
Before signing any contracts, one of the things that must be received is a report from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which is studying whether the race caused any disruption to the environment and wildlife on Stone Lake.
The results of the study will factor into the DNR's decision whether to issue a permit for the race next year.
"We just have to wait for them to finish their process," said Arnett.