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Economic Potential of South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness
Dr. Charles Sims examined the Economic Potential of South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness trail. The Urban Wilderness trail system in South Knoxville is a valuable natural asset that generates local spending and tax revenues, supports jobs, helps Knoxville attract and retain a highly skilled workforce and helps enhance resident’s quality of life. For purposes of policy, planning, and local pride, it is important for residents to understand the nature of these benefits. Quantifying these values is challenging but necessary in order to determine the impact of public and private activities that may enhance or diminish this asset.
This report provides estimates of the potential economic impact of the trail system on a three county region: Knox, Anderson, and Grainger Counties. Using existing studies of other trail systems in the United States, the study identifies three potential future growth scenarios for the trail system. Each scenario implies a different level of bike-related trail use and visitor expenditure. These estimates of trail use and expenditure at other trail areas are combined with characteristics of the local population and economy to provide forecasts of the economic impact potential of the trail system in terms of direct spending, indirect/induced spending, and sales tax revenues. While useful, these estimates do not consider many other benefits of the trail system including employment impacts, job recruitment, trail proximity impacts on property values, and overall quality of life.