Christians pumping millions into Chattanooga economy - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Christians pumping millions into Chattanooga economy

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Millions of dollars are being pumped into the local economy as several thousand people travel from all over the country for a Christian worship rally at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

The Ramp is a church group based in Hamilton, Alabama, but organizers say their winter event grew too large for their facility. They setup Saturday night at the Chattanooga Convention Center and will host around 8,000 people by end of day Monday.

The Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau says it's a big post-holiday boost for local businesses.

Thousands of mostly teens and 20-somethings are packing in the Convention Center Saturday through Monday for the Winter Ramp full of scripture, dancing and rejoicing. People are traveling from New York to Florida and several mid-west states to the Scenic City.

"This weekend is one that I would never tell anyone to miss out on. If anything, it's like somehow get to Chattanooga for Winter Ramp," Cassie Muller of Albany, NY said.

"It's a perfect place for an event like this for us. A lot of our audience is in close driving distance to Chattanooga and of course Chattanooga has everything they would need here," The Ramp Head of Operations Joe Reeser said.

Once each session breaks they disperse throughout downtown to eat, shop and sleep.

"The coffee's almost gone every five minutes so it's crazy. It's been busy," Staybridge Suites front desk clerk Jazzmine Baker said.

It's an unusual rush compared to the normal post-holiday slow down at Staybridge Suites, where there are only a few rooms left. "People called today saying they need to get to this so we have to book more rooms and everything, so it really helps," Baker said.

The Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates Ramp-goers will drop $4.7 million into local businesses, but organizers hope they take something more valuable when they leave. 

"Awakens them to purpose that then they can go home to churches all around the nation that then can sustain the work," Reeser said.

"It's really encouraging to come here and see all the people in love with God," Toree Dumas said.

"Being in a place where you have ten thousand young people who are all with that same focus, is powerful," Muller said.

The Winter Ramp was hosted in Chattanooga in 2010 and brought nearly $3 million to the local economy. Last year it was in Dalton, because they said the Convention Center was booked. Each year it keeps growing in size. Organizers aren't certain yet where they'll hold it next year.

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