Noble Street Festival 2

Fans watch bicycle races during the 2019 Noble Street Festival in downtown Anniston. 

The Noble Street Festival and Alabama Cycling Classic generated just over $1.5 million this year, according to a Jacksonville State University study commissioned by the city of Anniston.

Jennifer Green, director of the school’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, said volunteers surveyed 245 people at the festival and bike races on April 13. Questions attendees were asked included how long they had stayed in the area, how many people traveled with them and how much they spent on food and hotels.

Survey results were fed into software that estimates economic impact, along with an estimate of this year’s crowd — about 4,000, Green said — to generate financial data.

According to the program’s output, visitors and locals spent $1,505,563 in Anniston that weekend, a total that includes not only money spent by visitors, but indirect spending — like restaurants buying extra inventory for festival day — and induced spending — money made at the festival and spent nearby.

The three-page report states that the indirect economic effect totaled $273,576, while induced effects reached $126,318. Direct spending at the event totaled $1,106,669.

Main Street Anniston director Reilly Johnson said the study gives perspective to the impact the festival and races have.

“It’s easy to say the race is a big deal — it’s a big event each year — but having that number’s weight behind it really drives the point home,” Johnson said.

She said that the event has become a regional attraction, drawing tourism from within driving distance even as racers from around the world gather downtown. The numbers, she said, make a strong argument for local tourism.

Green said economic impact studies can encourage future investment.  

“Those who invest money sponsoring the event and the cities supporting the event, it justifies that effort,” Green said. “When you see the tax impact from just the sales tax it generates, they’re getting it back.”

According to the report, the event generated $122,388 in state and local tax, mostly in sales and property taxes.

Hotels were the most affected industry, generating $496,613; restaurants were next, with $381,649; spending on gas reached $194,209.

“Next year when they go to get sponsorships, they have this report that shows, ‘Look, this is a great event, and this is what happens to the economy when we have it,’” Green said. “You get more people on board.”

Johnson offered some ideas to keep race activity growing. Crowds tend to disperse from the Noble Street Festival by the late evening, when pro racers take to the course, and she wants to find a way to encourage more people to stay and watch the races.

“The pro races are the main ticket and they’re always fun to watch, so I think next year we’ll try to better collaborate with those times,” she said.

Carnival rides were free for children this year for the first time, she said, which might also bring more residents out to Noble Street.

“There’s no reason in my mind we should be limiting people from being able to enjoy something that’s for the community,” Johnson said.

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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