Kaptivate’s Research Partnership with George Mason University Reveals Torpedo Factory's $47 Million Contribution to the Alexandria Economy
Kaptivate Partners with George Mason University's Stephen S. Fuller Institute to Assess Impact of Torpedo Factory's Economic Engine for Alexandria’s Economy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2017
Alexandria, VA – Today’s release of The Impact of the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the Economy of the City of Alexandria, an economic impact study conducted by George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller Institute in partnership with Kaptivate, makes the case for the Torpedo Factory as a powerful place maker and economic engine. The study, using data collected from December 2016 through January 2017, determined that Alexandria received $35.2 million in direct economic contribution from the art center.
When asked to what he would attribute this economic appeal, Ron Vassallo, Kaptivate’s President & CEO, “It’s simple: it’s all about the Torpedo Factory experience. The ability to engage the creative and immersive process with a large community of master artists is a unique experience and one that, even after 43 years, remains a compelling one. Our research, along with an ample inventory of social media reviews, demonstrates the art center’s powerful appeal across a spectrum of boomers, millennials, empty nesters, families, and a kaleidoscope of cultures.”
The Torpedo Factory’s direct contribution represents the “new money” introduced by out-of-town visitors attracted to the Torpedo Factory. This “new money” gravitating to the art center is then spent on the boutiques, shops, restaurants, and hotels that orbit Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront. The study also highlights the "multiplier effect" of re-spending these dollars in the Alexandrian economy, an effect that can be calculated using the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis RIMS II model. When the multiplier effect is taken into account, Torpedo Factory’s total contribution to the Alexandrian economy amounts to $46.7 million.
In his analysis of the findings, Professor Stephen Fuller notes, “The Torpedo Factory Art Center is [Alexandria’s] starting point and … strongest catalytic force in attracting visitors during all four seasons.” The study's findings firmly support this statement. The Torpedo Factory was the primary Alexandria attraction for 48.6% of visitors surveyed and almost 96% of visitors who combined their visit to the art center with dining at local restaurants or shopping at local stores.
Mr. Vassallo also commented that the real surprise for him, and one shared by Professor Fuller, is how often the creative economy is overlooked as a powerful economic contributor. “The creative small businesses, like the studio leaseholders at the Torpedo Factory, are often mistaken for charitable endeavors. Creative small businesses,” he added, "like any commercial entity, need the freedom to manage their businesses, market their product, and partner with other businesses to bolster the value proposition to their customers. When a local community provides the right business context, the creative economy can both integrate with the broader economy and boost its dynamism and resiliency.”
It’s a perspective shared by Professor Fuller who has conducted numerous economic impact studies of cultural institutions around the globe. As he comments in the study’s conclusion, "The challenge going forward is how best to maximize this asset [the Torpedo Factory] to the benefit of the City’s economic base. The City and business leaders should focus their efforts on strengthening the primary tourist attractions that will raise the City’s competitive position in the Washington Region’s tourist industry. This needs to be a collaborative process. One venue or one group cannot achieve the full potential of the City’s tourist assets by itself.”
The study not only addresses the economic impact of the iconic art center but also provides insight on visitor spending, demographics, and behavior. The Torpedo Factory Artists Association, sponsors of the economic impact study, convened a press conference with the research team at the Torpedo Factory Gallery 311 on Thursday, 2 March (2:30pm EST). Photos of the event appear in this press release. A video of the event will soon be available.
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