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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

The Crooked Road's economic impact

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | June 01, 2016

The chart and the economic impact study were created by the Friends of Southwest Virginia in conjunction with Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development. The additional survey results below come for the same report.

Southwest Virginia counties with the highest tourism revenues in 2014 are Wythe ($137.65 million), Montgomery ($136.33 million), Franklin ($102.42 million), and Washington ($101.5 million). All other counties and cities had under $100 million in tourism revenues for 2014.

Those localities that had the highest tourism expenditures in 2014, and in past years, tend to be located along major interstates or nearby larger cities. Those localities in the lower end of travel expenditures tend be farther from major highways and have a more rural population.

In addition to direct travel spending which supports local business, this travel spending also supports job growth in the region. According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, 9,758 jobs existed in Southwest Virginia, thanks to travel in 2014. This is up 461 jobs since 2010.

The creative economy boosts job growth in related employment sectors, specifically the arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services industry. The estimated employment in the arts, entertainment, recreation, food, and accommodation industries has increased by more than 5,000 jobs in Southwest Viginia, since 2000.

As of 2014, the region had about 23,000 jobs in this industry. In 2000, 6.6 percent of all employed individuals in Southwest Virginia worked in this industry, but that proportion increased to 8.6 percent by 2014, indicating that creative economy related employment is becoming a larger part of the region's economy.

This trend is especially impressive as overall employment in Southwest Virginia decreased by 1.2 percent while employment in this creative economy-related industry increased by 28.7 percent between 2000 and 2014. The localities that saw the greatest increase in employment in this industry are Galax (102 percent), Norton (91 percent), Bristol (89 percent), and Patrick County (85 percent).

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