Lumbee Homecoming worthy of county’s support

A representative of Lumbee Regional Development Association on Monday asked the county commissioners for $10,000 to help pay for security for Lumbee Homecoming, which that organization sponsors, but received no quick answer.

We understand that commissioners would like some time to thoughtfully consider the request, but this one is, we believe, a no-brainer. Write the check.

James Hardin, executive director of the LRDA, was there with a palm up not of his own wanting, but because the annual two-week event, which is at the end of June and beginning of July, is so large, federal regulations require additional security. As a result of the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon, anytime more than 1,000 people are expected to line the streets, additional security is required.

We expect that the commissioners will pony up, whether it comes from the General Fund or those discretionary accounts. It would be a bad look for the commissioners not to support Lumbee Homecoming, although we know there could be some explaining for commissioners whose districts are not majority American Indian.

Lumbee Homecoming is worthy of the support because it is unlike any other local celebration, both in what is presents, a celebration of a unique heritage, and because of its duration, two weeks, during which as many as 40,000 people — almost a third of the number of residents of this county — will participate.

Tens of thousands of them will be returning to Robeson County — hence the homecoming — to visit family or friends they have left behind for any number of reasons. During their stay, they will be spending dollars, money that will boost our local economy.

Ben Jacobs, festival vendor coordinator for the LRDA, appeared with Hardin before the commissioners and provided information to highlight the event’s economic impact. Frankly, we think he undersold it.

According to Jacobs, about $1.5 million in additional spending is attached to Lumbee Homecoming, and he then used what we believe is a too-modest multiplier to say the local benefit is about $3 million.

We don’t know how many of those 40,000 people who enjoy Lumbee Homecoming are visiting, but if we say half are, which is 20,000, and each spends $300 during those two weeks, which is modest, that adds up to $6 million. As for multipliers, we have seen a number as high as seven, and while that might be exaggerated, two seems too low.

Lumbee Homecoming, we are sure, provides a much larger benefit to the local economy than $1.5 million, which makes $10,000 a really good investment.

There are other compelling reasons for the commissioners to write that check, including that $10,000 isn’t a lot of money in a $150 million budget, Lumbee Homecoming does an incredible job of telling the unique history of American Indians in this area, and the event also shows a gentler and kinder side of Robeson County, which has to endure its share of bad publicity, much earned, but much that is gratuitous.

This $10,000 would be money well-spent.

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