WINONA LAKE — The Center for Lakes & Streams completed a study this spring profiling the economic impact of the lakes in Kosciusko County. The study conservatively estimated the total value of Kosciusko County lakes to be approximately $313 million annually.
With more than 100 lakes in Kosciusko County, local water resources are a huge economic driver for the cities of Syracuse, North Webster, Warsaw and many small, neighboring communities. The Center for Lakes & Streams conducted an economic impact study using data collected from 314 businesses along with public data sources and national averages.
Businesses profiled included lake-specific businesses which profit directly from the presence of lakes, such as boat marinas and manufacturers, as well as lake-related businesses which benefit from the added presence of lakes, such as restaurants and grocery stores. Data was obtained from businesses primarily through survey (65 percent response rate) and, where survey data could not be obtained, through public data sources and national averages.
Seth Bingham, Research Assistant with the Center for Lakes & Streams and the lead researcher on the study, commented on the conservative nature of the study results, “We could only include economic data for businesses that we had reliable data for, such that the total economic impact is likely even higher than our study was able to quantify.”
Lake-specific businesses generate approximately $150,722,000 annually as a result of the presence of lakes in Kosciusko County. Boat sales, boat manufacturing and marinas had the largest total revenues of the lake-specific industry categories.
Lake-related businesses generate approximately $147,661,000 annually from the presence of lakes in Kosciusko County. Businesses in this category include auto and gas, food and dining and construction.
Property tax revenues generated by lakes in Kosciusko County were also found to be $15 million annually. This data was also added to the total lake economic impact calculations.
Dr. Nate Bosch, Director of the Center for Lakes & Streams, explained the importance of this study, “This study shows how lakes in Kosciusko County benefit our communities, even beyond lake users. Our findings also highlight the importance of what our center and other partner organizations do in the county—an investment in our county’s lakes is an investment in our county’s economy.”
A positive or negative shift in the water quality of these lakes could enhance or severely harm the businesses that are located around Kosciusko County lakes. Utilizing studies conducted in Ohio, the Center for Lakes & Streams estimates that an improvement in lake quality could increase the economic value of local lakes by as much as 5 percent, or approximately $10.5 million annually. Conversely, a decline in lake quality could result in an economic decline of 40 percent, or approximately $84 million annually in Kosciusko County. A full technical report and project summary can be accessed online.
The Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College conducts applicable research, engages and educates residents and collaborates with other organizations in efforts to make the lakes and streams of Kosciusko County cleaner. For more information or to support their efforts, visit the center online.