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GVSU study: Kent Co. parks generate $33 million in economic activity

  • Townsend Park in Rockford.

Posted on September 13, 2019

An economic impact study of the regional park system in Kent County, conducted by Grand Valley faculty members, shows about 1.4 million people visited one of the county's 42 parks, greenspaces or regional trails in 2018.

The study was led by faculty members in the Seidman Research Office in the Seidman College of Business, in partnership with Kent County Parks (KCP).

The study shows county parks generated more than $33 million in economic activity. Of this amount, $14.7 million was generated by non-local visitors. 

"The parks in Kent County play an important role in stimulating business and contributing to the West Michigan economy,” said Christian Glupker, clinical affiliate of economics and lead investigator for the study. "It is eye-opening to understand the millions of dollars in economic activity generated by visitors who come to Kent County to enjoy its parks and trails."

Glupker said KCP supported the creation of 317 jobs in 2018; direct park employment also helped to support additional jobs that were indirectly related to or induced by the park system. 

Dan DeLooff, KCP superintendent, said: "Parks, greenspaces and trails are vital to a thriving community. This report illustrates how our park system improves the quality of life in our communities, creates jobs and spurs economic activity that ripples throughout our economy." 

The study was compiled through a multi-methodology approach, incorporating data from the 2018 Kent County Parks needs assessment survey, a recent comparable study, data gathered by county staff and new field research. 

See the full report here.