DAYTON — The Great Miami Riverway (GMR), along its 99-mile-stretch from Sidney to Hamilton, brings in big money and sustains jobs as a result of tourism, a 2017 economic impact study revealed.
Elizabeth Connor, GMR coordinator, announced results of the Washington D.C. firm Tourism Economics’s’ study to several officials from communities along the Great Miami River gathered Monday morning, Sept. 10, at the Miami Conservancy District in Dayton.
Riverway visitors’ impact in 2017, Connor said, resulted in $773 million in sales, sustained 9,110 jobs, $219.8 million in wages and $45.9 million in state and local tax revenues.
Janet Bly, general manager of the Miami Conservancy District, opened the meeting and welcomed attendees before turning over it over to Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley.
“The vision is that our area has a unique economic development asset that we ignored for far too long. The Great Miami River is a resource that can make every one of our communities a better and more prosperous place to live and work. Equally important is how we use this precious resource to focus private investment on job creation and tourism and how we use river assets to create a quality of life that helps attract the younger workforce the area needs,” Foley said.
Stan Kegley, chairperson of the GMR Coalition/project manager at the city of Troy, gave a brief overview of the coalition’s creation going back 10 years, to speak hope for its future.
“All and all, this is a truly exciting time for the riverway, as many years of hard work and dedication by many of those people in this room and those 19 communities we mentioned are coming together. They are flourishing, and we are beginning to see the seeds over such a long course of time beginning to sprout,” Kegley said.
Connor took the podium and reminded attendees the GMR destination marketing campaign was launched in 2017. The study was then commissioned to guage the long-term success and economic impact of the campaign, she explained.
“Tourism creates a ripple effect. While visitors spend directly in restaurants, attractions and retail locations, industries such as agriculture, construction, healthcare and manufacturing all see the economic benefits. The study details these impacts and will be used by the organization to further leverage private investment and measure long-term results of the GMR campaign,” Connor said.
She said tourism is an “integral and driving component” of the GMR economy, which the study revealed sustained 5.7 percent of private employment. In the first six months of 2018, Connor said, 650 jobs were created and $274 million was invested in the GMR.
“Highlighting Ohio’s only National Water Trail, the nation’s largest paved trail network, world-class museums and some of the nation’s top dining experiences, the GMR is using the region’s assets to promote business, tourism and job creation,” Connor noted.
Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier told the Sidney Daily News that while the city of Sidney doesn’t have concrete figures from the riverway’s tourism, he said the No. 1 thing he sees is that the number of kayaks and pick-up trucks along the riverway is increasing.
“Young professionals are coming into the area, and local people are coming out also,” Gaier said. “A lot more interest in the riverway, not just in Sidney, but also on the local broadcast news networks, they talk about the GMR beginning in Sidney. You always hear Sidney thrown out there. Dayton is the hub, but also you hear Sidney to Hamilton being mentioned.”
“A lot more cyclists are on the road, and wouldn’t it be great to get them a connection to Piqua and Dayton, and beyond, along the over 300 miles of the bike pathway. You see more cyclists going out to the west to Walmart and Kroger. People are realizing being active is better than riding in a car,” Gaier continued.
Jeff Raible, director of the Sidney Visitors Bureau, said they were pleased to “jump on board” when presented with an opportunity to join as a sponsor of the GMR last year.
“We are uniquely positioned as the trail-head as the north-most city of the entire 99-mile initiative to Hamilton, Ohio. Being part of the coalition only helps us in Sidney to attract people. We now have another credible partner to attract additional tourism,” Raible said about GMR’s promoting the coalition partnership cities’ events and points of interests on their website and Facebook page.
Raible said GMR has a strong Facebook presence and noted the more successful the organization is, the more successful Sidney will be, as well.
He noted the immediate benefit of belonging to the coalition is the promotion on GMR’s website of Sidney’s local events, shops, restaurants and points of interest within one mile of the river. But Raible said “down the road,” with the completion of the bike path from Sidney to Piqua, it will connect Sidney to the more than 300 miles of the trail pathway, and then the possibilities are endless for tourism.
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