As with many things in life, sometimes value is defined simply in terms of dollars and cents. While it is impossible to accurately predict the ultimate economic impact the Ecusta Trail will have on Transylvania, Henderson and surrounding counties, we will give you several snapshots to give a strong idea.
In 2012, the Friends of The Ecusta Trail, the City of Hendersonville, the Town of Laurel Park and DOT partnered to commission an economic impact study for the potential of the Ecusta Trail. The complete study, and the Executive Summary, can be viewed in their entirety here. The following data and comments are excerpted from the study.
One-time Return Resulting from Direct and Indirect Expenditures
Annual Return Based on Tax Revenues, Visitor Spending, Healthcare Cost Saving
$9.4 Million (not including any added benefit of additional businesses)
Estimated Cost to Construct the Trail
One-time Return on Investment
$3.13-$4.24 for every dollar invested in the purchase and construction of the Ecusta Trail.
Since the Ecusta Trail is not yet built, this begs the question...How good are these numbers?? Let's answer this question by looking at recent economic impact studies or similar nearby trails. As you review these excerpts, remember that the 2012 Study for the Ecusta Trail made a very conservative estimate that the trail would yield an additional 20,000 tourists annually to Transylvania and Henderson counties.
Virginia Creeper Trail - Abingdon, VA
Virginia Tech Study
112,000 out-of-town visitors annually visit the trail
54,000 of those spent at least one night while visiting
Northern Outer Banks Trail - Northeastern NC
NC DOT Study
680,000 out-of-town visitors annually visit the trail
102,000 of those came specifically to visit the trail
Up to $149 Million in annual economic impact
Annual FTE impact: 1,407 - 3,517 FTE jobs
Swamp Rabbit Trail - Travelers Rest, SC
Furman University Study
530,000 visitors in 2014
125,000 visitors came from outside of the Upstate area
American Tobacco Trail - Durham, NC
NC State University Study
508,000 visitors in 2014
147,320 came from outside of the Triangle area
Other Food for Thought
Consider that none of these studies ask the following questions:
How many supporting business will start as a result of the Ecusta Trail and what will there impact be on jobs and tax revenues?
What impact will the Ecusta Trail have on Transylvania and Henderson Counties in terms of attracting additional commercial and industrial prospects? Current industries like Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, Sylvan Sports and Raumedic could have located anywhere in the Southeast, but chose Henderson and Transylvania Counties because of the quality of life.