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Weekend events good for Shoals economy, UNA recruiting

FLORENCE – The economic impact of thousands of people who made their way to the Shoals and the University of North Alabama over the weekend was expected to approach $1 million, according to data from the university. 

Two large regional and state events – the South’s BEST Robotics Competition and the Walter Trumbauer High School Theater Festival – were expected to boost the local economy as well as the university’s student recruiting.

“We are thrilled to welcome the student participants, their families, and coaches to this historic campus,” said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. “Each individual has an opportunity to experience all UNA has to offer – from our theater and competition areas to our many gathering places.

“Further, UNA is well-positioned in Florence and the Shoals so that visitors, when not on campus, can take advantage of the amenities throughout the area.” 

Among those amenities, of course, are the hotels, restaurants, retail establishments, historic sites, and other Shoals attractions that will create a combined economic impact of close to $1 million at the close of the first three days of the month. Combined, both events were expected to bring more than 5,000 visitors to UNA and the Shoals. 

“These are high-achieving students who are likely to bring parents and other family members along with them to these competitions,” said Dr. Katie Kinney, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “These would be students who may not have ever had the opportunity to come to the Shoals and see UNA and meet the people and professors here. This is also an opportunity to attend UNA and turn that high performance into a degree that results in a high-paying job after graduation.”

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