According to a new report by Fishkind and Associates, released Wednesday, April 20 at the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County meeting in West Palm Beach in a presentation to 150 business leaders, the planned cultural facilities expansion program is highly beneficial both culturally and economically.

000fq3Of the proposed 1% sales tax increase in the county, the original cultural facility investment portion of that penny will be multiplied in returns for the county, every year, once the permanent cultural facilities are in place. Following the construction period, economic impacts from new operations and associated primary out-of-town cultural visitor spending will reach $119 million per year, on an ongoing basis. These impacts will add 1,100 new jobs.

Funding under this proposed program would provide $121 million in penny tax monies to fund 23 proposed cultural facilities expansion and upgrade projects with a total construction cost of $355 million, throughout the county. The remainder of funding, an additional $2 for each dollar of public money would come from grants, endowments and private contributions. Based on recommended criteria there is a guarantee that every $1 of public funding is matched by $1 of private funding. This ensures that a minimum of $121 million in private funds must be raised to access public funds, making this an automatic boost for economic development.

The project includes the following economic impacts:

Economic Impacts – Construction

•          Economic Activity – $35.8 million per year during construction

•          Earnings – $10.8 million per year

Ongoing Annual Economic Impacts – Post Construction Operations and Visitors

•          Economic Activity – $119 million per year

•          Earnings – $48 million per year

•          Employment – 1,100 permanent new jobs


•          The project construction activity will be phased over 10 years. Planning and cultural needs assessments efforts have been underway for years, with most projects already extensively planned. During the development period, local economic impacts of construction plus the multiplier effect of this work will reach $35.8 million per year. Construction and related service and retail employment will provide $10.8 million in annual wage payments.

•          The resulting new facilities will add more than 600,000 square feet of building space plus outdoor activity areas in facilities located throughout the county. Building space among these cultural facilities will more than double. Attendance is expected to increase by 1 million persons over the current levels. Spending from out-of-town visitors will introduce additional spending into the community.

•          If the proposed sales tax increase is approved, the resultant construction projects will generate 323 jobs in direct employment and total employment of 514 jobs, with a cumulative economic impact of $357,700,000. Some $10,800,000 will be paid in construction wages annually throughout the decade. *

•          Current Baseline Economic Impact data (from 2010 Americans for the Arts Report)

o   $250 Million annual economic impact from all nonprofit cultural organizations in Palm Beach County

o   6,000 jobs

o   3.3 million in annual attendance

These figures are undoubtedly higher since the study recorded data from the year after the recession. An updated study is being conducted with Americans for the Arts currently with anticipated release of the report in late summer 2016.

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