Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department conducted an economic-impact analysis to assess its local open-space park system’s value to the community and to identify its benefits, the county said last week.
“To gain a better understanding of the park system's economic impact on Maricopa County, the parks department partnered with the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance to hire Arizona State University to perform an economic-impact analysis on eight of our 10 parks,” Parks and Recreation Department Director R.J. Cardin said.
Primarily focusing on visitor-spending trends in multiple areas, the study was able to pinpoint the impact of both visitor spending and total operating expenses, estimating that park visitors spent approximately $13.72 million during 2014 within 10 miles of each park, with this type of spending supporting approximately 139 full-time jobs, the department said.
The value-added impact of annual operating expenses within the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area is $9.7 million for the eight parks studied, distributed among a range of industries and creating at least 264 full-time jobs, the study said.
The study identified an overall 42 percent return on investment, $24.2 million in output, $20.8 million in gross regional product and $14.2 million in labor income. The most highly impacted fields were employment, payroll, commercial and industrial machinery, and equipment maintenance and repair.
Total tax contributions from visitor expenditures and operating expenses equaled $2.2 million in federal taxes and $1.2 million in state and local taxes.
"When the weather cools, it is hard to put a price on being able to hike in the Sonoran Desert and take in the natural beauty that fills our county," Steve Chucri, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said. "This study proves the value is also tangible. Our parks are not only beautiful open spaces, they are also bringing jobs to our community."