Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway attracts travelers and proceeds
Community economics analysts Brigid Tuck and David Nelson from the University of Minnesota’s Tourism Center and University’s Extension Center for Community Vitality, spoke to the Crow Wing County Committee of the Whole regarding the recently completed two year study that provided research-grounded information detailing the impact of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway on quality of life and the economy within the Byway area. The research was completed in the fall of 2010 and the final report was compiled by the University staff in December, 2010.
The economic impact of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway’s investments in the byway communities over the past decade was assessed during year one of the study. In year two of the project, intercept surveys of Byway users provided the data used to calculate the economic impact of Byway travelers. Byway users were only considered to be Byway travelers if they reported in the survey that they were visiting the area specifically because of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.
Tuck and Nelson outlined the justification for the economic impact study’s design selection, gave a brief power-point presentation of the project and provided a one-page summary of the results for County Commissioners. Some of the major positive economic impacts revealed through this study are listed below.
- In 2010, approximately 23,000 travel parties visited the region specifically because of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway
- These travel parties spent an estimated $21.5 million dollars while in the region; $14.6 million on locally produced goods and services. Due to this spending, an additional $6.4 million of ripple effect spending occurred in the byway area.
- This spending by Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway travelers created a total of $21.2 million in economic output in the regional economy, including 331 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs and $7.3 million in labor income attributable to the byway.
All the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway roads are county roads, with nearly all the byway route falling within the Crow Wing County border. The Crow Wing County Highway Department and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association have worked together on several projects since the byway route became an officially designated scenic byway in 1998.