The economic impact of the lakes in Kosciusko County, Ind., home to Grace College, Winona Lake, is conservatively estimated to be approximately $313 million annually, according to a study conducted by college’s The Center for Lakes and Streams this spring.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources lists 936 major Indiana lakes on their website, 58 of which are located in Kosciusko County, meaning that Kosciusko County lakes account for approximately six percent of the major lakes in Indiana. If the results of this Kosciusko County study were applied to estimate the potential economic impact of lakes in Indiana, lakes could account for as much as $5 billion statewide annually.
The study used data collected from 314 businesses in Kosciusko County. Businesses profiled in the study included lake-specific businesses which profit directly from the presence of lakes, such as boat marinas and manufacturers, as well as lake-related businesses which benefit from the added presence of lakes, such as restaurants and grocery stores. Data was obtained from businesses primarily through a survey (65 percent response rate) and, where survey data could not be obtained, through public data sources and national averages.
The study noted that lake-specific businesses generate approximately $150,722,000 annually as a result of the presence of lakes in Kosciusko County. Boat sales, boat manufacturing, and marinas had the largest total revenues of the lake-specific industry categories.
It also revealed that lake-related businesses generate approximately $147,661,000 annually from the presence of lakes in the county. The auto and gas, food and dining, and construction categories accounted for a significant portion of the lake-related industry types.
Property tax revenues generated by lakes in Kosciusko County were found to be $15 million annually. This data was also added to the total lake economic impact calculations.
Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes and Streams, explained the importance of this study, “This study shows how Indiana lakes benefit our communities, even beyond lake users. Our findings also highlight the importance of what our center and other partner organizations do—an investment in our lakes is an investment in our state’s economy.”
A positive or negative shift in the water quality of these lakes could enhance or severely harm the businesses that located around Indiana lakes. Utilizing studies conducted in Ohio, the Center for Lakes and Streams estimates that an improvement in lake quality could increase the economic value of lakes by as much as five percent, or approximately $10.5 million, annually in Kosciusko County. Conversely, a decline in lake quality could result in an economic decline of 40 percent, or approximately $84 million, annually in Kosciusko County.
A full technical report and project summary can be accessed online at lakes.grace.edu.