Five ways the arts impact rural economies

Creating an innovative business climate can have a large impact on an economy.

Arts organizations contribute more to their local economies than you might realize. Within rural communities, the cultural hub of arts centers and arts industries create an innovative business climate attracting more persons to live, work and play in the area! Nationally, the arts contributed a whopping $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, and an impressive $13.6 billion to Michigan’s economy! (View Report).

What does this mean for Northern Michigan? Rural communities, who host a variety of arts institutions, are equal in innovation and economic success to their urban counterparts (View Report). This means that the arts play a vital role in our local economies.

Check out five ways rural communities benefit from arts organizations:

  1. Rural counties that host performing arts organizations offer larger access to scenic and recreational activities. As individuals partake in the beauty of a concert or show, they’ll more than likely want to enjoy the natural and historical beauty surrounding them. In this way, visitors and locals alike will spend more time taking advantage of community activities whether that is museums, historical sites, parks or trails.
  2. Arts organizations in rural communities boost innovation and design ingenuity of other businesses. We’re motivated by inspiring surroundings. Creative institutions launching new services and defying design principles encourage businesses in their communities to strengthen their brand. According to National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), “80 percent of design-integrated businesses report growth in market share or having entered new markets…34 percent of design-integrated businesses recently have begun to export goods and services.
  3. Arts organizations promote civic leadership. These organizations thrive on the partnership and collaboration of other community members, businesses and organizations which creates a spirit of volunteerism and community involvement. Citizens take it upon themselves to see an organization’s success, creating a deeper sense of place.
  4. More jobs are created and retained. According to NEA, the arts in Michigan employ 128,619 persons. More employment opportunities translates to more persons choosing to make Northern Michigan their home.
  5. Rural arts organizations attract non-local audiences at higher rates than urban arts organizations. 31 percent of rural audiences travel beyond reasonable distance to attend art events, while urban organizations report only 19 percent. Likewise, rural organizations host four percent more international audiences compared to urban organizations.

Michigan State University Extension’s partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA)  assisted Great Lakes Center for the Arts, opening this summer in Bay Harbor, Michigan, with their $25 million dollar project. Their state-of-the-art facility will be a wonderful addition to the community providing job opportunities and a payroll of nearly $1 million dollars in its first year alone.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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