The Preservation Society of Newport County generates well over $100 million dollars annually in regional economic activity, according to a study conducted by the University of Rhode Island in 2000. The Preservation Society employs 400 people in Newport, and generates thousands more jobs in the area as a result of its own economic activities and those of its visitors. Since that study was done, visitation to the Newport Mansions has risen by 17%.
As one of New England’s four largest museums, and the largest permanent attraction in Rhode Island (other than casinos) with 887,000 admissions in 2012, the Preservation Society is a prime driver of tourism employment and tax revenue. Especially important in Newport is the commercial real estate tax base sustained in large part by the businesses dependent upon the Preservation Society.
The city benefits from millions of dollars in revenue from cruise ship landing taxes, hotel bed taxes, food and beverage taxes, sales taxes and parking fees that are generated by visitors to our historic properties.
Our own research, from 2000, indicates that Newport Mansions visitors spend an average of nearly $100 dollars per day while they are in Newport--with the majority of it going to local businesses, including hotels, restaurants, other attractions, retail stores, gas stations, auto repair shops and banks. The Preservation Society itself also pays $54,000 in ticket sales commissions to Discover Newport.
The Preservation Society generates millions of dollars in revenue and jobs for local caterers, florists, photographers, musicians and audio visual services annually from the Newport Flower Show, the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival, Christmas at the Newport Mansions, other special events, lectures and rentals at the houses.
The Preservation Society purposely directs the maximum possible amount of its own spending locally. For example, we spend $200,000 annually on heating oil; over $50,000 for special police and fire details; and over $250,000 to local design, marketing and advertising firms. We also contract with local professionals for legal representation, accounting, information technology, banking, the trades, security systems, consumer research, and office services, to name a few. We also sponsor local events such as Newport Restaurant Week.
Our payroll and related costs total $10 million, much of that to Newport residents. In 2013, the Preservation Society paid nearly $11,000 in property taxes, over $87,000 in water payments, and approximately $8,000 in licenses and fees to the city of Newport.
The Preservation Society has donated over one million dollars directly to the City of Newport over the past 20 years and continues to contribute $50,000 a year to the City’s Planning Department. The Preservation Society has underwritten $50,000 in repairs to the Cliff Walk and provided historic restoration services to Washington Square, King's Park, the Touro Street fire station and City Hall.
The Preservation Society also directs millions of dollars a year in philanthropy into the local economy. Grants, bequests, and charitable donations obtained by the Preservation Society further increase spending in a range of activities, including construction, landscaping and other services.
The Preservation Society’s success in devoting the maximum direct investment into the preservation and interpretation of its buildings and sites is vital to Newport and Newport County’s economy and jobs. Every dollar spent on its mission multiplies the revenue earned by residents, businesses, other non-profits and our municipal and state governments. It is the multiplier effect that sustains much of the regional economy.