The Economic Benefits of the Grand River Waterway

The Grand River Waterway project covers the 23-mile section of Grand River between the Bass River Inlet near Eastmanville and the Fulton Street Bridge in Grand Rapids. The main goal of this project is to return safe navigation for recreational boating on the Grand River. To this purpose, the Grand River Waterway organization retained Anderson Economic Group to conduct an in-depth study of the economic benefits of the Grand River Waterway project on West Michigan.

To complete our analysis, we first documented baseline economic, land use, and river usage conditions in Kent and Ottawa Counties, as well as the proposed scope of the dredging project. We conducted a market visit and interviews with local stakeholders and marina operators. We then identified and reviewed similar river dredging projects and related analyses that have occurred in other communities. Based on this research, we estimated economic impacts and benefits of the dredging project and increased recreational users on Kent and Ottawa counties. We also analyzed residential property sales data to estimate effects on property values stemming from a dredged river. Lastly, we assessed other benefits, including the more difficult to quantify economic benefits that are expected to stem from new and enhanced uses of the river in Kent and Ottawa Counties.

We found that there are over 77,000 registered boats in Kent and Ottawa Counties, and that Michigan has the third largest marine market in the United States. We estimate that the initial dredging will generate a one-time impact of $3.6 million, and the annual maintenance would increase output by $282,000 annually. We also estimate that the net new visitor spending due to the project will generate an economic impact of up to $5.7 million annually. Lastly, we estimate that the property value premium associated with the dredging could add up to 16.9 percent, or about $54.4 million, among the hundreds of residential properties along the Grand River in the project area.

We shared our results with the client in a report, complete with custom maps and exhibits to illustrate our findings. The client put out a press release with the findings from our study and posted our report on their website in the fall of 2018.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

Economic Impact Study