By Desirée Taylor
You can see the determination, inspiration and thrill of competition in a video promoting the 2014 Special Olympics USA games. For the first time, the week-long competition will be held in New Jersey at different venues in Mercer County, including several universities.
“The 2014 games will the biggest, most dynamic in the history of Special Olypmics,” said TJ Nelligan, Chairman and CEO of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. “This is about Jersey pride, show what’s great about New Jersey.”
The Special Olympics will bring thousands of athletes, their coaches, families and spectators to New Jersey next year, from June 14-21. And that could add up to an economic boost for area businesses, say Chamber of Commerce officials.
“We’re looking at 70,000 to 100,000 people descending on this region for seven days in June 2014,” said Bob Prunetti, Interim Executive Director of Mid Jersey Center for Economic Development. “You just multiply those numbers out and millions will be spent on lodging, transportation, food, beverage, entertainment.”
The total economic impact is expected to top $116 million, according to a report by the Mid Jersey Center for Economic Development. It finds federal, state and local tax revenues could exceed more than $1 million.
And even though the games will benefit from some in-kind services such as food and marketing, the $15 million price tag for producing the Special Olympics here will still pack an economic punch.
“I think the economic reports shows that not only are we doing good but we are doing well in the state of New Jersey. This is a great event, it is going to be an inspirational event, and it’s going to be a very powerful capitalistic event for the state of New Jersey. So it is a win-win for everybody involved,” Nelligan said.
“So it’s tremendously important and significant, not just in terms of dollars and cents, but for businesses in area, to make this a hospitable area for all visitors because it means if we have a good experience here we’ll have an opportunity to bring more of these events to the region,” said Prunetti.
The governor will serve as honorary chairman for the games. He has put together a task force — similar to the one convened for the Super Bowl — to assist organizers and to ensure New Jersey puts its best foot forward on the national stage.