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May 14, 2016

Study says Schuylkill River generates $590M for region

Preservation helps spur tourism in Southeastern Pennsylvania

The efforts to preserve the Schuylkill River and spur tourism along its banks generate more than a half-billion dollars for the region annually, according to a new study.

From Philly to Phoenixville, from Pottstown to Pottsville, the presence of restaurants, parks, historical sites, shops and more along the river helps spark economic activity in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the study says.

The study was conducted by Tripp Umbach, an economic analysis firm. It measured the effects of National Heritage Areas across the country, including the Schuylkill River NHA.

National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress to encourage historic preservation of an area. 

One of the biggest reasons for the river's impact on the region is the Schuylkill River Trail, which was named the best urban trail in the country for the length it spans in Philly.

"With the improved image of the river and development of the trail, the riverfront has increasingly served to bolster community revitalization efforts to the benefit of residents and businesses alike," the authors note.

Of the $589.9 million in economic impact, tourism makes up the biggest portion ($588.1 million). Operations, grant-making activities and capital expenditures make up the rest.

The biggest driver is hotels (including casinos) along the river ($143 million), followed by restaurants ($107 million), museums, zoos, parks and historical sites ($38 million) and retail stores ($24 million).

The Schuylkill River NHA also supports 6,154 jobs and generates $37.7 million in tax revenue, according to the study.