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Study finds Ozark Empire Fairgrounds has $30M impact

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A recent study calculated the economic impact of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center to be $29.7 million between events and new money brought to the area, according to a news release.

Missouri State University Darr College of Agriculture professor and department head Arbindra Rimal and graduate assistant Raysha Tate conducted the study by distributing surveys to guests during events at the fairgrounds. The surveys asked questions regarding what attracted the visitors to the events, their hometowns and how much money they expected to spend inside and outside the fair.

The resulting data concluded events at the fairgrounds contribute $17.55 million, and the recirculation of new money in the Greene County area is another $12.15 million.

Additionally, 335 full-time-equivalent jobs were created as a result of fairground operations and events.

“The results of the study show that Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center contributes significantly in the local economy by generating millions of dollars in output and hundreds of jobs,” Rimal said in the release.

Aaron Owen, general manager of the fairgrounds, said the company paid Rimal and his assistants at the college more than $20,000 to conduct the study.

Not including catering, Owen said the fairground hosted 118 events during 230 days of 2017. In 2018, he said that count is up seven events. Looking ahead, Owen also said OEFEC will cater at more locations after acquiring a Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees & Smoothies franchise.

Owen said the fairground is currently in the engineering phase of adding additional campsites to its current 100. He said there are also upcoming changes to concessions, although he declined to disclose details.

According to Springfield Business Journal's 2018 Progress advertisement supplement, the fairground in 2017 renovated 21,000 square feet for additional trade show space, bringing the total expo space to 110,000 square feet.

“We’ve spent the last six years – it’s been over $2.5 million – fixing facilities back up, and now we’re looking to invest, just like buying our Maui Wowi franchise,” Owen said.

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