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      Tournament a slam dunk for local economy

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - While most people are wrapping up their holiday shopping, Gary Fulmer is putting the finishing touches on the 10th annual Chick-Fil-A High School Basketball Classic.

      The four day hoops fest starts December 19th at Richland Northeast High School.

      "This past year we were ranked the number two high school tournament in the country, said Fulmer. We have packed crowds here every night, we have sponsorships involved with this, and we give out scholarships as a result of this tournament."

      The impact will be felt well beyond the gym walls.

      Ric Luber of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism estimates fans, players and coaches will create an economic impact of $300,000.

      "They TMll be out and about going to restaurants, and relaxing in our community, said Luber.

      The tournament is increasing from 16 to 24 teams this season.

      "We got teams from across the country this year, we've had teams from California, New York, we've had them from Texas, adds Fulmer. The idea is to reach out across the country to bring in the best talent and display it here."

      That TMs why midlands tourism officials are rolling out the red carpet for these hoops stars and their fans.

      "We think all these young people, as well as their families, and talk about the wonderful experience they had here in Columbia, and that's important, adds Luber.