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Weekend edition August 05, 2022 | Kailyn Lamb

Tennessee RiverLine “Economic Impact Report” estimates it may generate $104 million in spending across the region

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

Tennessee RiverLine, a regional trail system following the Tennessee River, has released its “Economic Impact Report.” The report was done in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) through the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, and the University of Alabama’s Alabama Center for Economic Development.

The 100-page report looks at the 652-mile stretch of the river and how many visitors it draws annually, as well as health benefits of the trail system. The report estimates there is approximately $104 million in annual new spending across the four states the river goes through, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. That number comes from the estimated 808,000 new residents and “paddling visitors” coming to the Tennessee RiverLine. The report also said the trail system would create nearly 2,000 new jobs, increase personal income by $65.5 million, and increase local and state sales tax revenue by $2.6 million across the four states. The benefits from flatwater paddling activities will save people an estimated $24 million in health-related costs.

“Currently, approximately 284,550 paddlers visit the Tennessee River each year. Our study estimates that the Tennessee RiverLine will attract an additional 807,936 paddlers annually,” said Charles Sims, UTK Energy & Environmental Policy Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics. “Whether paddlers are experiencing the river for just one day or for an extended period of time, they will spend money at various paddling destinations along the trail, including outdoor shops, restaurants, gas stations, and hotels. These invested resources will enrich and create job opportunities, increase salaries and wages for residents, increase the region’s GDP and resident’s incomes, and generate tax revenues for municipalities and states.”

The report also identifies 10 key components of water trail success which will guide future efforts and investments of the Tennessee RiverLine, its partners, and the surrounding communities.

The full report, as well as an executive summary containing the 10 components, can be found here.

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