Report: W.Va. Scout park supported 850 jobs

Report: W.Va. Scout park project has generated $170M in income, supported about 850 jobs

Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Construction of a permanent home for the national Boy Scout Jamboree has pumped nearly $170 million in income into the southern West Virginia economy over the past four years, according to an economic-impact report released Monday.

The report by SYNEVA Economics of Asheville, N.C., says about $121 million went directly into the community, while another $48 million was an indirect result of construction spending moving through the community.

It also says the Summit Bechtel Reserve near Oak Hill has supported an average of 848 jobs between 2010 and 2013, mostly in the construction industry. Those jobs helped boost local employment indirectly, mainly affecting the utility, restaurant and health care industries.

Tens of thousands of people are arriving for the first jamboree to be held in West Virginia. It runs through July 24, becoming what Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says will briefly be the state's third-largest city.

But Tomblin says the economic payoff from the park is far from over. He anticipates the Boy Scouts will expand their facilities as word filters out and the organization gears up for the world Jamboree in 2019, the first ever to be held on U.S. soil.

As the first 40,000 scouts and leaders go home and tell their friends about the experience, he said, "we would expect that number to grow."

Already, the Boy Scouts of America is projecting some 80,000 people will attend the 2019 event, Tomblin said. That means they'll need to clear more campsites and build more structures, including shower houses and restrooms.

"They got the main things done," he said, "...but there's still a lot of development to be done down there."

Since 1981, the Boy Scouts has held its annual jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. But that required the dismantling and rebuilding of structures every four years. The organization studied more than 80 possible sites in 28 states before choosing Fayette County for the jamboree's permanent home.

The park sits on more than 10,000 acres near the scenic New River Gorge and features activities ranging from zip lines, kayaking and mountain bike courses to archery and shooting ranges.

Opening ceremonies for the jamboree are set for Tuesday.

The SYNEVA report says every dollar spent at the site caused an increase of $1.54 in local economic output.

It estimates the project already has generated $45.1 million in tax revenues in the four-year construction period, $29.3 million of that for the federal government and some $15.8 million for state and local governments.

Tomblin says Summit Bechtel is another way for West Virginia to show the world what it has to offer. Scouting and corporate leaders from around the world will be coming to the state for the first time this week, he said.

"Hopefully, the word of mouth resonates and they go home and say, 'Wow, we didn't think of West Virginia' as a place to go," he said.

The Boy Scouts of America has committed to using the site year-round and making it available for things like corporate retreats and team-building adventures.

"It's not just seasonal," Tomblin said, "and it's not just for the Scouts."

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