Everyone has had those nice pleasant trips to the Detroit Zoo to laze around starring at animals. Those halcyon days also bring big dollars into our region.
When everything was added up the Detroit Zoo, which is single largest paid family attraction in Michigan, had a $100.2 million economic impact on the Metro Detroit community last year, according to a CSL International report.
Zoo operations, vendors, and visitors contributed more than $60.6 million in direct spending, which added up to $100.2 million when combined with indirect and induced spending.
Aside from just spending, the economy was boosted by the Zoo in the most fundamental way… jobs. The zoo also provides a lot of them … 1,082 full- and part-time ones. That adds up to another $35.3 million in wages and benefits.
People from beyond the local scene are also drawn to the attraction. More than 40% of the visitors came from beyond the local counties of Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, St. Clair and Lapeer in 2013. Those guests coming spent another $25.2 million on lodging, dining, fuel, and other purchases, all away from the actual zoo.
Our zoo is very popular. Over the past decade there have been 11.4 million guests, with 2013 being the highest in 16 years with 1.3 million.
It’s only going to get better. The zoo plans to spend $50 million on building new exhibits over the next five years. The most anticipated is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which is planned to be opened in 2015. The expected two-year development period will bring in even more jobs to the region, more than 100 engineering, design and construction jobs to start, along with the needed increase of several full time employees once it is done. This new exhibit is also expected to bring in another 100,000 visitors.
“As a world-class family attraction that draws visitors from throughout the state, across the country and around the world, the Detroit Zoo has a significant impact on the region, enhancing the reputation of our community, providing jobs to our residents and drawing families and individuals to the region’s other attractions and businesses,” said Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Larry Alexander.
Part of the reason for the strong economic boost may be that it is also an educational one. Through field trips, camps, overnights and family programs the Detroit Zoo hosts 25,000 students a year and 145,000 preschool and school aged children.
The complete economic impact report can be viewed on the Detroit Zoo’s website at http://cdn1.detroitzoo.org/pdf/development/Economic_Impact_Report_2013.pdf.