Sports & Events Authority collaborates with civic leaders on efforts to demonstrate the city’s commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
(HARRISBURG, PA, November 21, 2023) -- Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority (HHSE) today participated in a formal announcement recognizing the City of Harrisburg’s perfect score on the 2023 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The MEI examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work there.
Harrisburg received 96 out of a possible 100 points, and a total of 109 – the highest in the commonwealth - when “flex points” are taken into account. The perfect score marks a significant leap from the city's previous rating of 71, prompting HRC to feature PA’s Capital City as a success story in this year’s scorecard release.
See the City’s scorecard HERE.
Harrisburg has always been known as a diverse and welcoming city. The new MEI score is proof that civic leaders, tourism officials, and community organizations have a shared commitment to continue the important work of creating a welcoming environment for all.
“The ability to tout a perfect MEI score is not only an important tool in our efforts to promote sports & events tourism, but also in promoting meetings & conventions and leisure travel,” said Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority (HHSE) Executive Director Gregg Cook.
“Event organizers, national governing bodies, and travelers look beyond venues and hotel rooms in choosing a destination that also reflects their values,” said Cook. “Harrisburg’s high MEI score demonstrates its commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming destination for the LGBTQ+ community and all visitors, giving it a competitive edge in securing a variety of sports tournaments & special events,” Cook continued.
HHSE Director of Business Development Danielle Vincenti worked closely with city and other civic leaders and organizations in a collaborative effort focused on raising the city’s MEI score.
“Danielle played a key role in communicating the importance of this effort to our local stakeholders,” said Cook. “Her efforts to research the evaluation requirements and to help mobilize civic leaders for submitting updated information to HRC were critical to the process of elevating the city’s score,” Cook continued.
The power of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion efforts and the power of Sports & Events tourism combine to positively affect local economic impact and overall success and wellness of a destination.
HHSE’s Top 10 events for FY22-23 attracted more than 300,000 visitors and had an estimated local economic impact of more than $104 Million. Scores of events are held each year at city venues like the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, FNB Field on Harrisburg’s City Island, and on custom routes for cycling events, 5 & 10K walk/runs, and marathons.
In the latest report from Tourism Economics covering data from 2021, overall visitor spending in Dauphin County was $2.1 Billion. Tourism (including sports & events, meetings & conventions, and leisure) supported 24,000 jobs and generated 268 million in state and local taxes.
“First and foremost, a high MEI score shows our city is welcoming and that we are good neighbors with open arms for all who choose to live, work, and play here,” said Cook. “It’s also an incredibly powerful tool for organizations like ours to continue the work of attracting a diverse lineup of sports tournaments and special events that make a positive impact in our community,” he continued.
Pictured above | Back row L-R: Visit Hershey & Harrisburg President & CEO Mary Smith, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC President & CEO Ryan Unger, PA State Representative Justin Fleming, PA State Representative Dave Madsen | Front row L-R: Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority (HHSE) Executive Director Gregg Cook, City of Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams, LGBTQ Center of Central PA Executive Director Amanda Arbour, HHSE Director of Business Development Danielle, Vincenti, HHSE Events & Marketing Manager Tyler Petroski.
HHSE is committed to promoting sports tourism and events initiatives in the Hershey Harrisburg Region, forging mutually beneficial partnerships with new and existing client economic development as it relates to sports and events tourism. HHSE is a division of Visit Hershey Harrisburg, which serves as a partnership-based Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Dauphin County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
ABOUT VISIT HERSHEY & HARRISBURG
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg (VHH) is the official non-profit 501c6 partnership-based Destination Marketing Organization serving Dauphin County. Visit Hershey & Harrisburg is responsible for developing and executing comprehensive sales, marketing, and communication programs to compete for leisure, business, group, and sporting event travel market segments among leading and national destinations. VHH seeks to generate economic growth and stability through the marketing and promotion of travel to the Hershey Harrisburg region and to coalesce, develop, and expand its hospitality industry, products, and workforce.