For three years, the Tour of Missouri bicycle race has drawn statewide, national and international attention. Each year, an international company has estimated the economic impact the race has on the state's economy. This year that impact grew to over $38 million. The race expenses are covered by corporate sponsorships and $2 million from the state's tourism budget.
Tour of Missouri is at a crossroads. Its three-year contract with Medalist Sports, which organizes the race -- and is involved in similar high-profile races in California and Georgia -- is up. Medalist wants assurances that the state will help fund next year's event. Gov. Jay Nixon, likely facing opposition from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau in 2012, has looked for ways to quash state funding for the race. Kinder, as chairman of the tourism commission, has been the No. 1 cheerleader for the Tour of Missouri.
There is, however, widespread bipartisan support for the tour, which does a great job of casting a positive light on Missouri at a time when business investments and jobs are so crucial. It would be a shame for petty politics to stand in the way of the Tour of Missouri. The economic impact alone is a convincing argument.