Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park. (Photo: Bob Butters)

A new report issued by the National Recreation and Park Association demonstrates the vast economic impact of our nation’s local parks.

According to the report, local parks generated more than $154 billion in U.S. economic activity and supported more than 1.1 million jobs in 2015 from their operations and capital spending alone.

Developed in partnership with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, the report also includes a state-level analysis that highlights the economic impact of local parks in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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The economic impact reported in states in our area:

  • Tennessee – $1.5 billion
  • Georgia – $2.4 billion
  • North Carolina – $2.7 billion
  • Alabama – $945 million

“Parks provide tremendous health and environmental benefits; however, they are also powerful engines of economic activity,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA president and CEO. “This report demonstrates why policymakers and elected officials at all levels of government should prioritize park and recreation funding in communities everywhere. The impact of these investments is huge.”

“Local and regional park systems are growing in economic importance, not only as generators of jobs and local business opportunity but as major contributors to local quality of life,” said lead investigator Terry Clower. He also noted that quality of life and the availability of recreation amenities is increasingly important for attracting and retaining workers and employers, which extends the economic impacts of park and recreation spending beyond what is captured in the current study.

The results of this report will be announced at the IPL Mayor’s Lunch for Parks in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 8. Organized by the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, the event, which is attended by central Indiana corporate, community and city leaders, will feature keynote speaker Indianapolis Mayor, Joe Hogsett, who is a champion for local parks.

Public support for parks and recreation is strong. The 2017 NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey found 92 percent of Americans agree parks and recreation are important local government services (comparable to police/fire/schools/transportation). Moreover, 85 percent of Americans seek high-quality park and recreation amenities when choosing a new place to live. View the survey results here.

Click here to access the report.

Learn more about the NRPA here.

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