A skier glides down a hill Monday at the Quarry Road Trails in Waterville. The outdoor recreation venue is among those in the city that are under consideration for an economic impact study, thanks to a federal grant announced Monday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — How much does outdoor recreation add to the local economy?

Waterville officials hope to get a better idea about the impact of trails, parks and other sites, and use that information to benefit the city, as the result of a $45,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The highly competitive grant, announced Monday by the USDA’s Rural Development state director, Rhiannon Hampson, is to be used to analyze the economic impact of various recreational assets, including the Quarry Road Trails, the municipal pool, Pine Ridge Golf Course and city parks.

Hampson met Monday during a roundtable discussion at the Waterville council chambers with city officials and representatives of businesses and organizations to discuss how results of such a study could be used to benefit the region.

Outdoor recreational assets contribute to the health and well-being of residents, officials said Monday, and they stimulate the local economy because those who use them spend money at hotels, restaurants, stores and other venues, such as art and cultural events.

The study is expected to analyze outdoor recreation’s economic impact by identifying the number of businesses fed by outdoor recreational assets, the number of people they employ and the projected growth for employment, Assistant City Manager Bill Post said Monday.


“It’s more than looking at recreational assets. It’s businesses affected by events brought into the city,” he said, citing the Cal Ripken World Series event held in Waterville, which had a significant impact on businesses because it brought hundreds of people into the city for a week and a half.

“The study will look at recreational assets and what it means to the economy,” said Post, who attended Monday’s meeting.

Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, who also attended, said there is no one place where all of the important data is kept.

“I think this study will put all of that cohesively together,” she said, “so we can show the impact that a lot of the assets are having in the area.”

Many businesses that are applying for loans — or nonprofit organizations applying for grants — are often required to submit an impact study, which can be costly, according to officials. Data gathered and analyzed through this project should be available to them for that purpose.

“The analysis will be available to businesses to utilize when they’re looking to potentially expand their businesses,” Post said.


Lindlof said the data is expected to help attract businesses and high-quality workers to the city, including young people. The more outdoor recreation assets the city has, and the more people know about and use them, the better the quality of life and likelihood of growth, Lindlof said.

The City Council voted last Tuesday to accept the grant, and councilors must take one more vote to finalize it. The grant, however, was officially announced Monday.

Grant consultant Jennifer Kierstead of Waterville wrote the grant on behalf of Waterville. Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs, New York, has been hired to conduct the impact study.

City officials said they plan to begin the project in April, working with Camoin Associates to identify recreational assets that will be included in the study. The work, which is to include calculating the economic impact of each asset, is expected to take about a year.

Waterville officials know from experience that many donors and potential grantors want to be able to show their investments are producing economic benefits, Matt Skehan, director of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, noted in a memorandum last week to the City Council.

Skehan said an updated, professional economic impact study should help the city in its efforts to raise funds to support venues and events.

City Manager Bryan Kaenrath said the city is pleased to receive the grant to help support its recreational assets.

“This grant will allow us to better enhance these public assets and study how they more broadly impact our local economic growth,” he said. “The data received through the economic assessment study will allow the city to further assist its businesses that benefit from outdoor recreational activities.”

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