Study: TN Aquarium’s economic impact on Chattanooga tops $100 mi - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Study: TN Aquarium’s economic impact on Chattanooga tops $100 million

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Downtown Chattanooga. Photo: Warren-McLelland Photography Downtown Chattanooga. Photo: Warren-McLelland Photography

Credited with revitalizing Chattanooga’s downtown, the Tennessee Aquarium began as a community-driven effort, envied by other cities.

But a new study by the University of Tennessee Center for Sustainable Business and Development shows that the Aquarium also adds over $100 million dollars annually to the Chattanooga economy.

The researchers evaluated all aspects of the Aquarium’s economic impact, using data collected from Aquarium visitors during 2014.

READ MORE | TN Aquarium's Community Impact

“That’s a remarkable figure on it’s own, but when the annual return is compared to the initial $75 million investment to construct both Aquarium buildings, the number is even more impressive,” said Charlie Arant, the Aquarium’s president and CEO.

Over 700,000 visitors come to downtown Chattanooga, and bring out-of-town dollars that local businesses may not earn otherwise.

Those dollars add $6.3 million in taxes revenue which helps sustain essential services in the community, like funding for roads and schools.

The report also shows the multiplier effect of the Aquarium’s operations, which supports 1,086 jobs.

Schools and community organizations also benefit from the expertise of the nation’s only aquarium-based accredited Special Purpose School. Access programs provide free field trips, bus transportation and classroom programs equaling more than $2.2 million contributed to the local community.

Highlights of the report are:

  • $101.3 million: annual economic impact of the Tennessee Aquarium on Chattanooga and Hamilton County
  • 1,086 jobs are supported by the Aquarium’s operating and capital expenditures, along with the spending of out-of-town visitors
  • $67.7 million: revenue realized by area businesses as a result of goods and services purchased by Aquarium guests
  • $6.3 million: tax revenue generated for the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County to support essential services
  • $2.2 million: contributions the Aquarium made directly to our community through free student admissions and program support for education programs and other area nonprofits.
  • 30,000+ underserved students admitted free of charge each year
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