Economy of Parks

The measured benefits just keep growing

Money talks, and parks deliver

ForestParkResearch directly connecting the dots between parks and quality of life improvement abounds. From lower incidences of obesity to improved property values, benefits of open space on communities and on individual lives is easy to identify and appreciate.

A 2015 report by the National Recreation and Park Association highlights an additional correlation as well: economic benefit. The study focuses exclusively on three levels of local and regional parks’ economic activity: direct, indirect (business transactions of park agency vendors,) and induced (employees spending their earnings).

This study complements and underscores the already measured effects of visitor spending and the benefits that local and regional park agencies generate for the environment, health and wellness, and property values.

The result? America’s local and regional public park agencies generated nearly $140 billion in economic activity and supported EconomicImpact_ReportCoverTILTalmost 1 million jobs from their operations and capital spending alone in 2013. The encouraging findings continue:

  • Local and regional public park agencies directly provided more than 356,000 jobs in the United States during 2013, equating to nearly $32.3 billion in operations spending.
  • OPERATIONS spending by park agencies generated nearly $80.0 billion in total economic activity, boosted the gross domestic product (GDP) by $38.8 billion and supported nearly 660,000 jobs that paid in excess of $24 billion in salaries, wages and benefits.
  • Local and regional park systems spent an estimated $22.4 billion on CAPITAL programs, leading to about $59.7 billion in economic activity, a contribution of $29.2 billion to the GDP, $19.6 billion in labor income and more than 340,000 jobs.
  • In total, the nation’s local and regional public park agencies spent nearly $54.7 billion in 2013, leading to $139.6 billion in economic activity, just under $68.0 billion in contributions to the GDP, and nearly 1 million jobs that generated labor income of $43.8 billion in 2013.

Missouri holds a generous piece of that pie with our state’s parks generating over $2.2 billion in revenue and providing over 18,000 jobs for our economy. The study features St Louis’ very own Forest Park, the positive impact of which — $4.25 million in total economic activity and 39 jobs — is undeniable for our local region.

Combine these findings with studies that indicate residents not only prefer to live in proximity to a quality park system but that they’re also willing to pay more for close access to open space and parks, and the importance of open space becomes increasingly pronounced. People and economies thrive with parks in the healthy mix.

View the full report here: Economic Impact of Local Parks: An Examination of the Economic Impacts of Operations and Capital Spending on the United States Economy

– Reported by: Lysa Young-Bates