The Lake Freeman economic impact study that was commissioned by the Carroll County Economic Development Corp. in partnership with the White County Economic Development Organization is now complete.

The primary goal of the study was to get a macro level picture of the effect that the reduced water levels of Lake Freeman have had on Carroll and White counties. The three main areas of study were local visitor data, consumer spending, and household gross assessed value (AV) leading up to and throughout the lowered water level period of 2020. The study was performed by the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD). Data was gathered through online surveys.

Key findings include:

• Average days spent by visitors and property owners (secondary residences) at the lake decreased between 2018-2019 and 2020

• Lake property owner expenditures declined between 2018-2019 and 2020

• Visitor related expenditures declined between 2018-2019 and 2020. These decreases resulted in a negative economic impact of close to $600,000.

• Real gross assessed values (including per capita) decreased between 2018 and 2020.

• The lowered water levels in 2020 (July-December) created a loss of nine jobs affecting more than 25 industries.

“This study produced great insight on the immediate effect,” stated Jake Adams, executive director of the Carroll County Economic Development Corp.. “This new information allows us to examine and provide possible projections to what a longterm reduction would do to our communities. This data clearly shows a significant impact.”

Randy Mitchell, president of the White County Economic Development Organization, said, “With the numerous inquiries that we receive from our community regarding the financial impact that the lower lake levels are creating, we partnered with the Carroll County Economic Development Corp. to commission a study to answer these questions. I feel that the Purdue Center for Regional Development answered this challenge.”

The study noted that the impacts are conservative estimates given that survey respondents did not include all homeowners or visitors and median values were utilized (obtained from category ranges) versus actual expenditure figures.

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