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Study shows economic impact of Marquette’s water-based culture

Marquette’s Lower Harbor is shown. A recent study commissioned by the Michigan Port Collaborative reports the total economic impact of Marquette’s water-based culture during 2017 is estimated to be $255.5 million. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — A recent study commissioned by the Michigan Port Collaborative reports the total economic impact of Marquette’s water-based culture during 2017 is estimated to be $255.5 million.

“The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Michigan’s Ports and Harbors” can be viewed at michiganportcollaborative.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Michigan_Ports_Study.pdf . It was composed by Dr. Vincent P. Magnini, executive director of Institute for Service Research; William E. Boik, a retired employee with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; and Dr. John C. Crotts, senior researcher at ISR.

The study compiled port cities in Michigan that financially contributed to the study. The following is how the areas ranked, from lowest to highest:

Onekama, $21.6 million; East Tawas, $84.8 million; Elk Rapids, $107.7 million; Manistee, $139.6 million; South Haven, $154.9 million; Alpena, $173.8 million; Les Cheneaux Islands, $189.4 million; Marquette, $255.5 million; Saugatuck-Douglas, $261.9 million; Grand Haven, $307.6 million; St. Joseph, $353 million; Muskegon, $358.3 million; Traverse City, $498.3 million; Rogers City, $971.6 million; Sault St. Marie, $2.7 billion; and Detroit, $8.8 billion.

The study estimated 74% of tourist visits to Michigan’s harbor communities can be attributed to the water-based culture of those regions.

Michigan’s ports and harbors produced $19.7 billion in economic impact, the report states, with around 151,000 full-time jobs supported by the activity generated by water-based activities.

The federal government obtained about $1.3 billion in tax revenues in 2017 as a result of water-based tourism and recreation in/around Michigan’s ports and harbors, according to the report.

“Although Marquette still has a ‘working waterfront’ and is designated by the federal government as a deep-draft commercial, cargo and recreational harbor, in recent decades, the city has been applauded for successfully maintaining an inviting, picturesque, and recreationally-accessible waterfront that still serves commercial functions,” the report reads. “Achieving this balance between the ‘work’ and ‘play’ benefits of the waterfront is largely credited to local government and civic engagement.

“Through thoughtful planning and coordination, a number of public-private ventures have aided the economic development of the waterfront,” the report states. “In fact, today, more than 90 percent of the shoreline within city limits is owned by the city.”

In 2017, water-based visits to Marquette were associated with significant spending around Michigan. Marquette visitors spent $15 million in restaurants and $14.6 million in lodging establishments around the state, according to the report.

Tourism and recreation spending contributed $107 million to the gross domestic product of Michigan, spawned around $16.1 million in federal tax income, and roughly $13.1 million in state and local tax income in Michigan. The 2017 economic impact due to water-based tourism and recreation in Marquette is estimated at $192 million.

Direct spending by tourists included $70 million on charter fishing; $150 million on the cruise and ferry industries; $2.1 billion on boat payments and accessories, and another $3.5 billion on boat-related expenses such as maintenance, repair, slip rental, off-season storage, taxes, licenses and registration.

There are 55 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and 77 scenic waterfalls in Marquette County, with many amenities along the waterfront, including festivals and events which serve both residents and visitors.

Festivals and events include, but are not limited to: International Food Fest and Fourth of July fireworks; Art on the Rocks and the Outback Art Fair; Harbor Fest and South Shore Fishing Fall Tournament; Blues Fest; U.P. Fall Beer Fest; and Upper Peninsula Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day. Many of the events are held at or near Marquette’s Mattson Harbor Lower Park.