John Deere Classic economic benefit reaches $25 million

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The upcoming John Deere Classic, July 9-15, will be making money for the community, one tire at a time.

Volunteers are shining up tires to Deere equipment on a blazing Thursday morning near the entrance to TPC at Deere Run in Silvis.

"The tournament means so much to the economy," said Kristy Ketcham-Jackson, director of the Birdies for Charity program.

The corporate sponsor plays a critical role in the tournament's financial success. Moline-based Deere & Company became title sponsor in 2000. It sets the stage for a profitable event.

"That $5.3 million dollars that the John Deere Classic generated for charity last year translated into about a $25 million dollar economic impact on the area," Ketcham-Jackson said.

That's why hundreds of volunteers are transforming the golf course into its own city. There's everything from electrical wiring to corporate tents, even planting flowers. They started back in late May. With just days to go, they're ready to make a great impression.

"To have a PGA tour stop in your community is absolutely fantastic," said Moline Mayor and longtime volunteer Don Welvaert. "From the marshals to scoring and the operations group, it's a huge undertaking."

While that economic benefit reached record proportions for charities in 2011, the tournament crew is aiming to make this year even more successful. Birdies for Charity is off to a great start. On-line ticket sales from the Classic's website are up 20%.

PGA officials started at sunrise on Thursday to spray paint boundaries along the course. It's the kind of chore that makes everything tournament ready. Over at a big tent, workers are creating a new Family Zone.

"It's got wonderful information in there about Deere and its 175 years," said Sally Welvaert, John Deere Classic. "There's a concession stand. There's going to be all kinds of interactive things for kids."

Long before the cheers, these volunteers are setting the stage for economic success in Silvis.

"With the backing of John Deere, we're able to turn everything around 100% back to our charities and to really benefit the community," Ketcham-Jackson concluded.

Economic benefit that's worth $25 million and more at the John Deere Classic.

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