GIRARD — There are a number of reasons why travel and tourism can make a huge difference on a community. And on Friday morning, county commissioners got a closer look at just what that number could be for Crawford County.

GIRARD — There are a number of reasons why travel and tourism can make a huge difference on a community. And on Friday morning, county commissioners got a closer look at just what that number could be for Crawford County.

Crawford County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director B.J. Harris gave an update to the county commission on Friday, and noted his most recent calculation of the economic impact of travel and tourism on the county — a little more than $12 million.

Harris started his calculations with the tax collected from hotel taxes, which is taxed at a rate of 4 percent. Using that, he extrapolated the gross annual hotel sales, which total close to $4.8 million a year. Harris said that the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that hotels are roughly 40 percent of the economic impact of tourism, meaning local tourists have spent more than $7.2 million on all items not including lodging. Added to the hotel impact, that means the total economic impact of travel and tourism in 2011 was $12,043,423.

“Any time you are trying to calculate numbers off of estimates, it can get a little hairy,” Harris said. “But I feel confident in it because it is based off real numbers, which is the tax collections from the state.”

Harris further told the commissioners about changes to the grant program through the CVB.

“We grew the grant program from $600 on one organization to $6,500 from the budget to set aside to donate to four different organizations,” Harris said. “Part of that is for the Smithsonian event. But the stretch of that money goes to events held in Walnut, events held in Franklin, events held in Pittsburg, and events held at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.”

Harris also noted the success in bringing in several events, and thanked commissioner Linda Grilz for being part of the delegation that was successful in pushing for the Shrine Bowl to return to Pittsburg in 2014.

“When an event like thiat goes to a smaller community, it is a big deal,” he said. “The city really rolls out the red carpet for an event like that. This is going to be the event when it comes to town. There won’t be 10 other events that weekend. It is not going to be buried like it would be in a big city.”

Commissioner Carl Wood told Harris that if there is ever a situation in which money needs to be spent in order to make money for those in the county, that Harris shouldn’t hesitate in coming before the commissioners.

Commissioner Bob Kmiec commended Harris for his efforts, and also instructed him to look at regional efforts.

In other action, the commission opened bids for narrowband radios for the sheriff’s department, and the bids went to Mobilcom for $41,150.65. Installation is included in those costs, and Wood said this would be the final price, as the radios had to be re-bid after an important component was left out of the winning bid weeks ago.

“We’re not changing nothing on this,” Wood said. “If he wants a $300 change order, we’re not doing it. Tough luck.”

There was some discussion at the meeting about the racks on which the radio repeaters would be mounted, as the Mobilcom bid called for aluminum racks.

The county may pursue steel or other racks from Mobilcom for a slightly higher price, but remaining below the other bids.

“It would be our change order, not his. If it’s something we change, I don’t see an issue so long as it doesn’t exceed the next lowest bidder,” Grilz said.

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.