Monday, August 04, 2008

Economic Impact of Trails

My friend and neighbor Frank Brummer is a tireless advocate for the building of trails. He has literally travelled the world (at least six of the seven continents) and has seen first hand how trails can improve a community with a much higher quality of life component. He has taken this experience and is today leading the efforts to build a trail that will link several communities in our county to the many recreational assets that we are fortunate to have developed.

Frank recently sent me a study that American Trails Training Partnership did in MN on the impact that nice trails can have upon a community. The study looks at the impact of the Root River Trail in SE MN upon the town of Lanesboro (population 788) stating “Post-trail Lanesboro boasts 12 B&Bs (with year-long waiting lists), 8 restaurants, an art gallery, a museum and a thriving community theater.”

The study cited the example of the small “mom and pop” bike shop in Lanesboro which sold 60 tandem bicycles in a single year, more than Minneapolis’ largest multi-store chain sold in the same year. It’s an example of people out having a good time on the trail, making an impulse purchase in a small town.

MN boasts over 1.5 million cyclists, inline skaters and walkers that use its many trails. These people spend money and even fall in love with a region, sometimes moving because of quality of life attributes like trails and other amenities. In the case of Lanesboro that means more than $5,000,000 in added economic benefit. Not bad for a town of 788!

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