Saturday, Aug. 27


Illinois parks and recreation more than just fun and games          Send a link to a friend

$3 billion industry wields tremendous economic impact

[AUG. 27, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- "The park districts, forest preserves, conservation and recreation agencies in Illinois are well-known as some of the best in the country," said Dr. Ted Flickinger, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Association of Park Districts. "In addition to improving quality of life, park and recreation agencies also wield tremendous economic impact as an industry."

According to a recent study conducted by Economics Research Associates in Chicago, local park and recreation agencies employ approximately 62,900 people each year, with direct earnings of $553.2 million annually. The study, "The Economic Impact of Local Park and Recreation Agencies in Illinois," found that public parks and recreation is a $3 billion industry in Illinois.

"The study gives credibility to several things that those of us in the field of parks and recreation have known for a long time," Flickinger said. "Parks and recreation employs Illinois youth, builds communities, boosts local tourism and supports Illinois businesses."

The study found that there are 54,200 part-time employees at park and recreation agencies in Illinois, including a host of seasonal positions, such as lifeguards, day-camp counselors and golf course attendants. Employed between May and August each year, many of these workers are of high school and college age, making park and recreation agencies a major employer of young people in the state of Illinois.

The study also shows that park employees spend their income in Illinois. Local businesses and their employees that provide ongoing services and materials to park programs will do the same. This increased economic activity generates a range of new jobs and wages throughout the state, totaling nearly $1.3 billion in additional impact.

Park agencies directly improve their communities and boost local land values and tourism opportunities as well. When the amount of land for parks is increased, property values in surrounding areas are improved by up to 20 percent. By developing recreational complexes and venues for regional tournaments and other events, park agencies boost local tourism.

[to top of second column in this article]

Illinois businesses also benefit from parks and recreation. Public park agencies generate about $475.5 million in operational spending each year for services and products, such as wholesale and retail supplies, phone services, utilities, legal and auditing services, architectural and planning services, and consulting and contractual services.

"Using a multiplier approach, these operational expenses support more than 9,700 additional jobs and $316 million in associated earnings across the state," Flickinger said. "Perhaps one of the most compelling statistics in this study is that 73 cents of every dollar spent by park and recreation agencies stays in Illinois."

A full report of the study findings, beginning with an executive summary, is available at [To download Adobe Reader for the report file, click here.]

Call your local park district, forest preserve, conservation or recreation agency, or visit  for more information and a list of events. Parks and Recreation Month was observed in July.

Park District Youth Program license plates are available that help fund youth programs. For more information call the Illinois Association of Park Districts, 1 (877) 523-4558, or the secretary of state, 1 (800) 252-8980 or (217) 785-5215. Information and request forms are available at and

Established in 1928, the Illinois Association of Park Districts is a nonprofit service, research and educational organization representing 350 park districts, forest preserves, conservation and recreation agencies throughout Illinois. The association's mission is to advance these agencies in their ability to preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.

[Illinois Association of Park Districts news release]

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor