OU Events Boost Athens Economy

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When a national event or conference comes to town, it can take a lot of coordination and organization to pull off a successful visit.

Such was the case when The National Forensic Association (NFA) held its tournament in the Baker Center at Ohio University. 

However, Baker Center wasn't the only business trying to accommodate new visitors.

When the university hosts these types of events, up-town Athens and hotels must also prepare for the wave of newcomers.

Jordan Ratz, Operation Coordinator at Baker Center, says there must be clear communication between all parties involved.

He says the client notifies the Center about the specifics, and the Center tries to meet their needs. 

“It’s a big collaboration between Reservations, which is our face to the client. On the other side is Operations, we handle all the tangible objects; chairs, setting up stages and podiums,” says Ratz. 

Mike Gindlesperger, head intern for the NFA, says approximately 800 people attended this year.

Gindlesperger handed out visitor guide pamphlets with details about hotels, restaurants and shopping in Athens at the conference. 

Dan West, Ohio University Director of Forensics, says every hotel in town, as well as those in Marietta, Jackson and Logan are booked because of the event.

Red Brick employee Cody Gierhart says events held at OU benefit their business. 

“We can tell there’s more people coming into our bar when the university hosts things on the weekend. It definitely helps out our bar and restaurant,” Gierhart says.

Due to the themed weekends in the spring at Ohio University, it’s likely the local economy will continue to see an increase in revenue.

Not only are fests a major part of an influx of visitors, but Mom’s Weekend is known to be one of the most popular weekends of the year.

Rooms offered in Foster House and Bromley Hall on campus are sold out for that weekend. 

The Baker Center will once again be called on to host events for Mom’s Weekend.

Moms can attend a dinner with entertainment, a fashion show, and an expo hosted by the Black Student Cultural Programming Board.

“[Baker] just provides a great service. People, students and conferences come here and we’re just that Segway to help them convey their needs,” says Ratz.