Highlights of the report…….
What does Valdese Lakeside Park bring to Valdese in visitor and resident spending? Does the park save residents money? Do visitors really stop in town to eat?
These are the questions Friends of the Valdese Rec set out to answer. The economic impact of parks and trails can sometimes be understated. Thanks to FVR board member Zakk Heile, the value Valdese Lakeside Park brings to Valdese can be shown in numbers.
The Economic Impact Study looked at these areas
- Spending in Valdese solely due to a park visit (broken out into gas, food/drink, shopping)
- Tax Revenue for Town of Valdese (Property and Sales)
- Resident Savings (Health or Transportation Costs)
How did we get the results?
The first step was to gather park visitation numbers. This was done over several months with nine strategically placed trail cameras. The result? 136,974 visits per year.
Next, FVR conducted two surveys asking the same questions. One survey was online and one was done in person at the park. People were asked where they were from (results were tallied as Valdese, Other Burke County town, Out of Burke County) and how often they visited the park. From there, the question was “based solely on a park visit,” how often does the park visitor 1 – get gas, 2 – eat/drink and 3 – shop in Valdese.
Next came the data analysis.
The report goes into all the details, but the bottom line is Valdese Lakeside Park brings in over 135,000 visits per year. The surveys showed that visitors come in almost equal thirds from the three geographical areas – Valdese (32.7%), other places in Burke County (34.0%) or outside of Burke County (33.3%) – about 45,000 visits from each.
It made sense to see how the three regional area visitors spend differently. For example, all “out of Burke County” visitors were combined to see how often they got gas (%22.5%), how often they got food (18.1%), how often they shopped (7.8%). The same for the other two geographical areas.
Knowing how often visitors spend, an amount needed to be calculated. A meal these days averages $13. Some days it may be fast food, some days a sit down restaurant – but on average a person spends $13 on food. $17 was assigned to a person’s gas purchase as it is about $42.50 to fill up your gas tank and cars coming to the park include 2.5 people on average. Spending in Valdese will be at one of the unique shops in downtown, Dollar General, Auto Zone, Food Lion, ABC store, and the like. Most people surveyed were not on full blown shopping trips, but picked up a few items to equal about $21.
Knowing an Out of Burke County visitor spends 22.5% on food (.225 x $13.00) plus 18.1% on gas (.181 x $17.00) and 7.8% on shopping (.078 x $21.00) due to a park visitor; and that they are 32.3% of all park visitors – it is calculated they spend $6.75 per person per park visit. Thus, $6.75 times 45,612 visitors = $307,883 is spent in Valdese by Out of County visitors.
Doing this calculation for each geographic area, yields $882,300 in spending in Valdese each year due to the park.
For the details on $22,ooo Tax Revenue (sales tax and property tax) and the $330,000 in Resident Savings (on healthcare or transportation), see the full report. Once, those three are numbers are added together (spending, tax revenue, resident savings), the annual economic impact of the park is over $1.24M
Donors, grantors and investors can be pleased to know their contributions to Valdese Lakeside Park are more than just about about recreation and quality of life for visitors; they are also about the significant economic benefits for Valdese businesses and residents. What a return on investment!
Speaking of ROI, the report includes this information per existing amenity and for future plans. See it here.