21 May Report: Museum expansion would provide significant economic benefit
State and local officials were on hand Tuesday at the museum to announce the results of the economic impact study and discuss plans for the Gallants Channel site with the public.
BEAUFORT — A newly released economic impact study shows that development of a state-owned site in Eastern North Carolina would bring millions into Carteret County and the state.
The Maritime Heritage Foundation hired ConsultEcon, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to study the economic feasibility of developing the Gallants Channel site in Beaufort as a new home for an expanded N.C. Maritime Museum alongside new, complementary development. The executive summary of the report was presented Monday morning at the museum to project stakeholders and potential partners from the state, county and community.
“What this study recommends is a more aggressive plan for Gallants Channel,” Ed Robbins, of the Maritime Heritage Foundation, told those in attendance.
The study looks at the impact of a new 80,000-square-foot Maritime Museum and a new 4,000-square-foot Marit
ime Center. The museum would expand its current focus on the history, culture and environment of coastal North Carolina, while the Maritime Center would support maritime and marine science programs, junior and adult sailing activities and overall use of the 31-acre site.
“The land has been sitting there for a long time, and it’s definitely under-utilized,” said Ken Howard, director of the Division of History Museums and the N.C. Museum of History. “How do we make this site something everybody can use and enjoy?”
One of the key components of the plans for the site is engaging both residents and visitors. The report outlines a plan for drawing people in to the museum: focusing on residents, school and other tour groups during the off- and shoulder seasons with educational and community-based programming; and providing enhanced programs and amenities to attract new day and overnight visitors. For the Maritime Campus, the draw would be programs, events and festivals hosted by the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum; marine science programs; meeting facilities; and outdoor events and festivals hosted on-site by other organizations.
“Tourists are the economic impact,” James Stevens of ConsultEcon said during the presentation. “It’s mostly visitor spending.”
Potential visitation with the expansion is estimated at up to 289,000 annually, which would increase the current direct and indirect economic impact on the county by an additional $32.7 million and on the state by an additional $21 million in expenditures and wages, according to the report. The $60 million investment over 10 years needed for the construction on the waterfront acreage would have a one-time economic impact of its own of $100 million to North Carolina (including $1 million in income tax revenue alone) and provide more than 700 jobs.
The report recommends moving forward with the next step: creating master plan that covers the site’s infrastructure, programs, exhibits, activities, facilities and more.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in this place,” Stevens said. “I don’t want to overstate it, but the numbers are there.”