Student economists estimate impact of five major High Country events

Students from Appalachian State University's student chapter of the National Association for Business Economics and faculty in the Department of Economics in the Walker College of Business have recently conducted a number of economic analyses, estimating the impact of major tourism events in the High Country.

Study subjects include three road bike races, Blood, Sweat and Gears, the Beech Mountain Metric and the Blue Ridge Brutal, as well as the High Country Beer Fest and the New River Marathon.

The economic impact of each event on the region was significant and estimates range from $116,091 to $771,000.

Blood, Sweat and Gears

Junior economics majors Jessica Robinson and Ariana Welsh contributed to the Blood, Sweat and Gears (BSG) report.

The 19th annual BSG, a long distance road bike ride, was held on June 25.

Proceeds from the ride are donated to a number of local charities.

Of the events studied, researchers found that the participants of BSG reported the highest level of satisfaction, with eighty two percent of respondents reporting they were extremely satisfied with race. The event also had the largest number of participants, 1142, and economic impact on the region, an estimated $771,000.

Read the Report: Economic Impact of the 2017 Blood Sweat and Gears

High Country Beer Fest

Junior economics major Johnathon Nodine and junior economics and finance double major Myles Grady studied the High Country Beer Fest, and they noted in the report that the 2017 event benefited Appalachian's Fermentation Sciences program and other non‐profit organizations including High Country Local First, High Country Mommies, Blue Ridge Conservancy‐Middle Fork Greenway Association, The Mountain Alliance and Ivory Tower, Inc.

The researchers found that local hotels and restaurants also benefited from the event. "The top two categories for expenditures were lodging and bar/restaurants," states the report. "Average lodging expenditures were $102 and average bar/restaurant spending was $72."

Overall, the researchers estimated an economic impact on the region of $248,000.

Read the Report: Economic Impact of the 2017 High Country Beer Fest

Beech Mountain Metric

Junior political science major Ryan Fenton and sophomore economics major Patrick McCabe contributed to the 2017 Beech Mountain Metric (BMM) economic impact report.

The BMM, a long distance bike ride, had a total economic impact of $154,000 in 2017.

The researchers found that, of the events studied, participants who stayed overnight to participate in the Beech Mountain Metric reported the highest expenditures on lodging, an average of $205. The average total spending was $367 during their stay.

Read the Report: Economic Impact of the 2017 Beech Mountain Metric

New River Marathon

Junior economics majors Yeimi Chavez‐Gonzalez and Francis Zamora Muñoz estimated that the economic impact of the May 2017 New River Marathon (NRM) was $154,000.

The NRM includes a marathon, a half marathon, a 5K and a 1-mile fun run. Overall there were 515 participants.

Sixty‐one percent of the respondents traveled to the High Country and stayed overnight. Of these, 54% stayed one night and 37% stayed two nights.

Read the Report: Economic Impact of the 2017 New River Marathon

Blue Ridge Brutal

Senior economics major Mallory Vannoy and junior economics major Luis Rangel researched the Blue Ridge Brutal, ultimately finding that the race contributed $116,091 to the local economy.

The Blue Ridge Brutal offers 100, 75 and 57-mile ride options, and each route allows for at least a 20-mile stint on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

They also found that "sixty-four percent of the respondents traveled to the West Jefferson area and stayed overnight," and, of those, "36% stayed one night, 43% stayed two nights and 21% stayed more than two nights."

Of the races studied, participants of the Blue Ridge Brutal were most apt to complete the researchers' surveys, with 43 percent reporting on their experience.

Read the Report: Economic impact of the 2017 Blue Ridge Brutal

Business Student Research at Appalachian

The students were advised by Department of Economics professor and Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) Undergraduate Program Director John Whitehead. The CERPA Undergraduate Research Program conducts community-based and other applied research. 

The Walker College Business encourages students to participate in research supervised by a faculty mentor to: Learn more about issues or questions of specific interest; Learn how business firms and government agencies do research; Gain additional job skills; Work more closely in a collaborative and mentoring context with a professor, and Improve presentation skills. Business students are eligible to apply for a variety of research grants designed to cover costs associated with research projects or creative endeavors, including Appalachian State University Office of Student Research Grants, Barnes Program Research Grants, and the CERPA Scholars Program.


The Center for Economics Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) at Appalachian State University enables decision-makers to implement policies that better achieve targeted outcomes by producing research and disseminating information on current economic and policy issues. Housed in the Walker College of Business Department of Economics, CERPA maintains the Appalachian Experimental Economics Laboratory (AppEEL) as part of the experimental economics program and encourages faculty and student student research. For more information, visit For more information, visit