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GVSU study: Zoo and public museum generate a combined $62 million

Posted on October 18, 2016

The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum generate a combined $62.2 million in Kent County each year, according to new research by Paul Isely, economics professor and associate dean of undergraduate programs in the Seidman College of Business.

The two venues support 766 jobs annually in Kent County and attract 526,000 visitors from outside the county, the study shows. Of those visitors, 66 percent come only to experience the zoo and museum. Combined, the institutions draw more than 800,000 county residents and out-of-towners each year.

“This economic impact study demonstrates the John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum are more than just treasured cultural institutions, they fuel Kent County’s economy,” said Isely. “The zoo and museum attract visitors from near and far who pump dollars into Kent County hotels, restaurants and a variety of other businesses.”  

The study illustrates visitor spending in Kent County outside of the zoo and museum, as well as the financial impact of venue operations and construction projects. Results are based on a random survey of zoo and museum visitors during the summer of 2016, as well as existing information on the number of visitors over the past year and where they live, and how much they spent at the zoo and museum.

Examples of the venues’ annual economic impact in Kent County:

• $62.2 million in additional production of goods and services

• $16.4 million directly spent by visitors outside the venues

• $16.5 million in additional business earnings from direct, indirect and induced spending

“It’s typically a good day for business when visitors line up at the zoo or museum,” said Tom Lamancusa, a manager of Nawara Brothers. “The John Ball Zoo is the anchor of the West Fulton Business Corridor and a vital part of the neighborhood. Not only are the zoo and museum great family experiences for the people that live and work on the west side, but huge magnets for visitors from all over West Michigan.”

Peter D'Arienzo, John Ball Zoo CEO, said: “Time and again the John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum promote Kent County as a place to work, live, raise a family and do business. The zoo will continue working with the museum to provide cultural and educational destinations for generations of children and families.”

For more information, contact Paul Isely at 331-7418.