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Editorial: Golf tournament shines positive light on W.Va.

Jul. 07, 2013 @ 11:14 PM

It's difficult to imagine a single event that brings more positive attention -- and provides as many potential opportunities -- to West Virginia than The Greenbrier Classic.

The professional golfing event, which marked its fourth year last week, is a winner for the Mountain State from a variety of perspectives. It's not easy to say which is most vital; all are important. But at the center of it all is The Greenbrier, the state's premier resort located in White Sulphur Springs, and its owner, Jim Justice, who worked hard to bring the PGA event to the historic facility.

One aspect, of course, is the national exposure. The seven-day event is featured on cable and broadcast television around the world and in the sports sections of daily newspapers across the country. That exposure places West Virginia before tens of millions of viewers and readers in a positive light, showing the beauty of both the resort and the state. State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette noted last week that broadcasters are "effusive" in their praise for both resort and the state, and the air time devoted to the tournament is worth many millions of dollars. The air time and newspaper articles also help dispel the stereotypes that some may have about our state. That's a welcome byproduct.

Then, of course, there are the people who gather at The Greenbrier. Last year, even though a massive storm wreaked havoc on the state just a few days prior, about 178,000 people attended the event. Besides the opportunity to see many of the world's top golfers in action, many are there to pursue business opportunities or promote their businesses. Certainly, state officials are tuned in to the networking opportunities.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin noted last week that several companies have opened or expanded in West Virginia over the last year, many as a direct result of talks that started on the grounds during The Greenbrier Classic last year. He sees the tournament as a prime opportunity to show investors -- including many from foreign countries -- what West Virginia has to offer. As one of the key sponsors of the event, state government representatives work hard to make valuable business connections and promote the state as a business locale as well as a tourist destination.

Beyond that is the direct economic impact, which is substantial. A consulting company that evaluated the effects of the 2010 tournament found a total economic impact on the state of $42 million, including about $21 million spent by attendees on lodging, shopping, food, tickets and transportation, according to a report in the Daily Mail of Charleston. More than $6 million also was generated by concerts associated with the tournament, the consultants found.

It's clear to see why The Greenbrier Classic has became a marquee event for promoting West Virginia. And it's made possible by Justice, the staff at The Greenbrier and the hundreds of volunteers who help pull it off each year.

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