The nation’s foremost agritourism convention could have a $300,000 to $500,000 economic impact on Noblesville.

The North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, Inc. convention is scheduled for the soon-to-be-finished Embassy Suites Conference Center, Feb. 1-7, 2019, and the impact on the city and Hamilton County could be significant.

This will be the first convention of its kind for Noblesville. The opening of the Embassy Suites, early next year, with its 30,000 square feet of meeting space, was the catalyst for NAFDMA’s decision. That coupled with the state’s commitment to agritourism and our central location made Hamilton County an excellent choice for the 2019 convention,” said Laura Kelner, director of Sales for Hamilton County Tourism.

Based on room rates, and potential spending on convention attendees, Kelner said HCT estimates a $300,000 to $500,000 economic impact.

“Currently, Hamilton County Tourism has a formula in place that tracks only leisure and sport tourism spending. A convention like NAFDMA has a little different spend pattern. Therefore, we estimate an economic spend somewhere between $300,000 to $500,000 from the group,” she said.
Judi Johnson, Noblesville Economic Development director, said the convention’s impact could reach beyond dollars spent.

“I believe the overall impact for Noblesville will be both beneficial and advantageous. Beneficial, because our restaurants, hotels and businesses will benefit from the increased spending that comes from due to the convention attendees,” Johnson said. “Advantageous, because Noblesville and Hamilton County's reputation for the ability to accommodate big name conferences and conventions will grow and lead to more attraction.”

There are other potential positive for the city and county, said Tim Monger, president and CEO of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp.

“There’s an obvious direct economic impact in terms of spending by those attending the convention. But beyond that, an indirect impact may come from the influence business executives take from their experience at a particular location,” Monger said. “An executive may have a positive experience and think about having a convention here, or consider the area when expanding their business. It could have a broader impact on the region.”

The Embassy Suites Conference Center, and other venues – such as the Events Center at Grand Park – position the county to attract other conference or conventions, Monger said.

Johnson agreed

We have worked very hard to make sure that we are building the landscape that attracts new businesses, new visitors and provides for our citizens,” Johnson said.

The 2018 convention will be in Orange County, California. In an effort to ensure members get a glimpse of businesses located all over North America the convention moves to a different region each year. Last year more than 400 NAFDMA members attended the convention in Mystic, Conn.

The North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, Inc. convention will consist of educational sessions, workshops, a business exchange and farm tours around the state. Agritourism operators attend NAFDMA to get critical tools, tips and information to help them better market and grow their businesses.Their membership is comprised of u-pick fruit and vegetable farms, wineries, farmer’s markets, destination dairies, tree farms and the like.

“We are excited to welcome NAFDMA to the Hoosier State,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “I’m privileged to serve as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development and oversee the Office of Tourism Development, and today’s announcement emphasizes the value we place on this sector. Agritourism is a vital part of our state’s economy and appeal and we look forward to the opportunity to host the 2019 convention.”

NAFDMA is a membership-based association dedicated to advancing farm direct marketing and the agritourism industry.  As the association’s flagship event, the annual convention will take place at the soon-to-open Embassy Suites Conference Center in Noblesville and bring together agritourism operators from all over the United States and Canada.

 “NAFDMA’s decision to choose Indiana, and Hamilton County, for its 2019 meeting underscores what a player the state and Central Indiana are in agritourism,” said Brenda Myers, President/CEO of Hamilton County Tourism. “Central Indiana is home to a number of agriculturally-themed attractions that pay tribute to our state’s heritage. We are thrilled this prestigious group will bring some of the nation’s biggest and best agritourism operators to the state for sharing.”

This announcement comes on the heels of the recently launched Indiana Culinary and Agritourism Strategy, which was developed by IOTD and ISDA to advance culinary tourism and agritourism as an economic driver for Indiana. According to ISDA, Indiana has more than 300 farms across the state that engage in some form of agritourism.