Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area visitor spending generates economic impact of $92M annually


Last updated 8/24/2020 at 9:05pm

Rivers of Steel has released an economic impact study estimating the generation of more than $92 million of economic benefit and 922 jobs each year as a result of spending by visitors to Rivers of Steel and its partners, including the expenditures of Rivers of Steel on grantmaking, operations, and capital improvements.

· More than 25,000 individuals visit Rivers of Steel’s sites each year to participate in more than 50 experiences, attractions, and programs.

· More than one million individuals visit sites and programs operated by close partners throughout the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area region who have significant ties to Rivers of Steel and to the history and heritage they collectively showcase. 

· Together with its close partners, this assessment estimates Rivers of Steel influences or helps to attract more than 400,000 visitors to the region on average each year.

· Between 2016 and 2018, Rivers of Steel awarded an average of more than $71,000 in mini-grants per year awarded to its partners - regional nonprofits and municipal governments for heritage-related projects.

· Throughout its 25-year history and especially over the past seven years, Rivers of Steel has invested in its built environment, creating or renovating historic sites, National Historic Landmarks, and various facilities under its control. On average, Rivers of Steel spends approximately $176,000 on construction each year, contributing to capital expenses.

· The annual average of direct, indirect, and induced economic impact estimates a $92 million return on the annual investment of $664,000 by the National Park Service through the National Heritage Area program and an average investment of $200,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Heritage Parks Program. The result is more than a 100-fold return on investment in terms of ultimate economic benefit for the eight-county region.

· In addition, all these activities and the resulting ripple effect in the economy generate significant estimated tax revenue for municipal, county, and state governments totaling more than $5.6 million and for the federal government of more than $7.4 million.

August Carlino, president and CEO of Rivers of Steel, said, “The unstated conclusion of this report proves that heritage tourism, and the National Heritage Area program of the National Park Service, along with the State Heritage Area program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are true economic drivers and worthy of the investments of the public and private sectors.”

“We have to remember,” Mr. Carlino continued, “that old, historic buildings can become economic booms to communities if there is a commitment to invest. Once they are gone, the unique character of a place changes forever. We not only lose the building, but we also contribute to the loss of our identity. Heritage Areas not only support jobs and generate revenue, but they also invest in these other intangibles that are so critical to the quality of life of the places we call our home.”

Today, Rivers of Steel operates a portfolio of historically-significant sites in the Monongahela River Valley, including Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Rankin and Swissvale, along with the Bost Building National Historic Landmark—a museum and visitors center in Homestead, and the historic Pump House and Water Tower in Munhall, in addition to the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop—another National Historic Landmark located in Rices Landing, Greene County.


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