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Study says Kent's ShoWare Center added $25 million to local economy in 2011

The city-owned ShoWare Center brought in an estimated $25 million to the local economy in 2011, according to an economic impact analysis presented to Kent City Council members at a Nov. 20 workshop.

The independent study, by Community Attributes, Inc. of Seattle, concluded that the facility “is a regional magnet, attracting more than one million visitors to Kent for sports events, entertainment, conferences, civic events and more. All told, ShoWare Center patrons spent an estimated $12.1 million at local businesses with a ripple effect of $25.1 million in 2011.”

This spending contributed $609,700 in tax revenues to the city of Kent annually.

“The study shows that our investment in ShoWare Center, while its opening couldn’t have come at a worse time, on the brink of the recession, has benefitted our city in general,” Mayor Suzette Cooke said in a city media release. “The events themselves, coupled with the recreation dollars spent on dining, shopping and other services, have really boosted the bottom lines of our downtown businesses during the recession."

The council voted 5-2 in April to approve a $36,400 consultant contract to perform the economic analysis on the 4-year-old arena.

In the analysis, Community Attributes combined financial and survey data with “IMPLAN” modeling, a well-established method for measuring the ripple effect of business-to-business and employee spending on the local economy.

The economic impact analysis notes that Kent Station restaurants report a 20 percent increase in foot traffic on event nights. The top complaint now is lack of parking.

According to the study, ShoWare Center produces the following revenues:

• A total of $609,700 in tax revenues to the city of Kent annually.

Of this, $403,000 comes from patron spending at Thunderbirds games and ShoWare Center events, including dining and shopping during trips to ShoWare Center.

The additional $206,700 includes tax revenues that come from indirect and induced impacts estimated and derived from economic models.

These models capture business to business spending and the impacts from employee spending (same assumption of 75 percent of indirect and induced impacts captured locally).

Ben Wolters, city economic development director, said ShoWare Center has been instrumental in helping to put Kent on the map as a regional destination.

“The national recession and the negative impact it’s had on the event industry has caused an operating loss of $1.3 million over the past three years," Wolters said about the arena. "Despite this loss, ShoWare Center has been helping our local economy recover.

“We’ve attracted hockey, ice skating and other sports fans, thousands of meeting attendees and families for shows like Disney and the Ringling Brothers Circus. We’ve attracted music fans from around the region and have an even better event lineup for next year.”

Operated by SMG, ShoWare Center employs 30 full-time employees, 150 part-time event employees and created 560 jobs during its construction.

The ShoWare Center Economic Impact Analysis is available at www.KentWA.gov.

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