New Money: Big Dig

A construction festival unearths nondues revenue for the Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky.

The Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky wanted to create an event for kids that showcased jobs in the industry. What they ended up with was an event that excited kids, inspired members, and helped the bottom line.

“We are using this to try to introduce young people to the trade and provide nondues revenue,” says BIA Executive Vice President Brian Miller.

The association created its first Big Dig last year. The event is held at the local fairgrounds and provides a hands-on showcase of construction and building equipment in action for young children and their parents. BIA asks owner-operators to volunteer to run the equipment and interact with kids.

“We wanted to impart the Disney experience to the people who come,” Miller says. “The owner-operators got to really see the excitement in a young person’s eyes as they are pouring concrete, laying asphalt, having a blast.”

BIA’s bank account had a blast, too. “We probably make about $30,000 on this, which, as you know in the association space, can go a long way,” Miller says. The revenue the event brings in comes half from sponsorship and half from ticket sales to about 6,000 attendees.

The Big Dig won a National Association of Home Builders 2018 Association Excellence Award in a Best Revenue Effort category.

But the event is about more than revenue. “It addresses the number-one concern: workforce development,” Miller says. “We’re going to need well over 50,000 people in the next 10 years. [The Big Dig] goes further than we could do in a press release or interview to let the community know these are true professionals who work in this trade.”

BIA is also looking to engage a new audience. “The internet is really killing us with the younger generation,” Miller says, noting that millennials don’t typically visit their other events, like home shows. “What this has opened us up to is young parents in their 20s.”

Because members and sponsors are interested in reaching millennials, the association is looking at how to better leverage the Big Dig in the future. “We are trying to reimagine how we do things,” Miller says. “How can we capture their attention and do other things for them?”

(Susan H. Smith/Getty Images)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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