Charlotte Pride’s first-ever economic impact study reveals $7.75 million to city’s bottom line

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Photo Copyright Jennifer Hogan.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The annual Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade added more than $7.75 million in total economic impact to the city from out-of-town visitors in 2014, including $2.49 million in labor income, according to a study commissioned by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Charlotte Pride organizers say the economic impact study, the first professional study performed for a local LGBTQ event in the Charlotte region, is a sign of the LGBTQ community’s spending power and influence.

“The LGBTQ community in Charlotte and our surrounding region contribute greatly to the continued economic growth and success of the Queen City,” says Charlotte Pride Co-Director Richard Grimstad. “As Charlotte Pride enters its 15th consecutive year, we do so knowing that our event has become both a social and economic mainstay for the city we call home.”

More than 100,000 visitors attended the two-day weekend event held Aug. 16-17, 2014, in Uptown Charlotte. Of those, a Charlotte Pride survey found an approximate 65,000 unique individual visitors, of which more than 16 percent were out-of-town visitors.

A study commissioned by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) tracked the economic impact from those out-of-town visitors — those who traveling 50 miles or more to Charlotte. Nearly 8 percent of out-of-town visitors traveled more than 100 miles to attend the event.

CRVA found the total economic impact from out-of-town visitors was $7.75 million, including $2.49 million of additional labor income, with a total of 76.63 jobs supported by visitor spending.

“It’s rewarding to see events that enrich the community so much also have such an incredible economic impact,” says CRVA Chief Executive Officer Tom Murray. “The Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade is a signature event for the city that drives tens of thousands of visitors here, infusing millions of dollars into our local economy that continues to pay dividends for years to come.”

Among the survey’s and study’s findings:

  • Of the more than 10,500 out-of-town visitors, nearly 81 percent stayed overnight in Charlotte, with 68 percent of those visitors staying at local hotels.
  • More than 77 percent of festival attendees also attended the parade.
  • The average visitor spent more than $460 per person while visiting the city.
  • The average length of stay of overnight visitors was 1.7 nights and included 3.4 people.
  • The largest amount of spending was lodging, followed by food, beverage and retail.
  • More than 62 percent of attendees spent their dollars shopping, with more than 61 percent spending dollars on local dining.

Charlotte Pride’s survey results also find that the annual event is reaching a growing diversity of the city’s LGBTQ and straight ally communities. Organizers estimate that fifty-three percent of attendees were female, with 45 percent identifying as male and two percent as transgender. An estimated 16 percent of attendees identify as straight, with 10 percent identifying as bisexual, 33 percent as lesbian and 41 percent as gay. Nearly 20 percent of attendees are people of color.

The annual event’s continued growth follows an historic trajectory of increasing interest in the event, which began as a small festival in 2001 in Uptown’s Marshall Park. After being hosted in a variety of locations, the event moved to S. Tryon St. for the first time in 2011, hosting a one-day festival and attracting over 25,000 visitors. In 2012, the event expanded to a two-day festival just one week before the city’s hosting of the Democratic National Convention. That year, the event hosted more than 45,000 visitors. In 2013, Charlotte Pride hosted the first local Pride parade in nearly two decades, with more than 40,000 visitors watching the parade and more than 80,000 visitors attending the accompanying two-day festival that weekend.

“Year over year, the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade has continued to grow — it’s a testament to the city’s LGBTQ community and its growing impact on social and economic discussions and influence,” says Charlotte Pride Co-Director Craig Hopkins. “Fortunately, Charlotte Pride’s growth has been continually supported by the generosity of our community partners, corporate sponsors, festival vendors and individual donors, along with the city and its agencies, without which this event would not be possible.”

Organizers are looking forward to their 2015 event, which will again feature award-winning entertainment, an exciting parade and two-day weekend festival. Applications to participate as a festival vendor or march in the parade are currently open, as are opportunities for sponsorship. The group is also looking for volunteers to fill various planning roles.

“Charlotte Pride’s annual event has proven the perfect opportunity for businesses, both small and large, as well as community groups to reach out to potential customers, clients and supporters,” says Charlotte Pride Director-Elect Paul Kelly. “We encourage potential sponsors, partners, vendors and parade applicants to reach out and secure their participation in the event as soon as possible.”

For more information on this year’s event, including sponsor, vendor and parade opportunities, visit

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ABOUT CHARLOTTE PRIDE: Charlotte Pride works to celebrate and empower our local LGBTQ community and produces 
educational and social programming highlighting the social, cultural, ethnic, artistic and civic diversity of the 
Charlotte-metro region’s LGBTQ community, including the annual Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade which hosted
 more than 100,000 visitors in 2014. It is one of the Southeast’s largest LGBTQ Pride organizations.