The Potawatomi Zoo recently released its 2016-2018 Economic Impact Study that quantifies economic activity attributable to the Zoo from 2016 through 2018.

The study concluded that the cumulative three-year impact of the Potawatomi Zoo on St. Joseph County was $80.88 million and supported 1061 jobs. The Zoo could also be credited with supporting 807 jobs and creating over $66.6 million in tourism economic impact outside of St. Joseph County.

The total impact on output within St. Joseph County is created through Zoo operations and by attracting visitors to the county. Using 2019 dollars, this includes $31.1 million in labor income, $47 million value added services, and $12.8 million in tax revenues for the federal, state and local governments.

“The Potawatomi Zoo plays an integral role in the economic progress of our city, county, and surrounding communities,” says Marcy Dean, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo. “As we move forward with our master plan, knowing exactly how the Zoo contributes to the region helps us examine the effectiveness of our growth and gives us guidance for our future fundraising efforts.”

To assess the economic impact of the Potawatomi Zoo outside of St. Joseph County, visitation figures from the 2017 Indiana Office of Tourism Development study were used, as well as public and private data from a variety of other sources. The study used the average spend-per-visitor from 2017 to determine where tourists spent their money in Indiana.

Past and projected attendance were also analyzed by the study. Attendance at the zoo has risen consistently since 2014 (with the exception of 2018, due to abnormal weather) and the proposed long-term improvements should continue the trend. The Zoo’s Master Plan, a $37 million investment, is expected to increase overall visitation to the Zoo by over 160% above its 2015 levels, resulting in yearly attendance of 350,000 to 400,000 at full implementation.

The report was prepared by Zoo Advisors, a planning and consulting firm based in Havertown, PA that specializes in zoo economic impact studies. Zoo Advisors used the IMPLAN model to estimate the overall economic impact of the Potawatomi Zoo.

The IMPLAN economic input-output model was developed by the Minnesota IMPLAN Group. It is the industry standard for economic impact studies. IMPLAN uses input/output methodology to analyze inter-industry relationships in order to quantify the total impact of an economic event.