Economics Center releases economic impact study of Cincinnati Museum Center

Museum Center delivers impact of $114 million and is key asset for the region

CINCINNATI – The Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati released today an economic impact study of Cincinnati Museum Center. The study examines the economic and community benefits of Museum Center, the largest cultural institution in the city of Cincinnati and one of the most highly-attended in the nation, welcoming over 1.36 million visitors during the 2013 fiscal year. In total, the Economics Center found that Cincinnati Museum Center had a total economic impact of over $114 million in 2013.
Cincinnati Museum Center is a major economic driver for the region, accounting for 1,278 local jobs with over $40 million in wages and benefits. Through Cincinnati income and hotel taxes, as well as Hamilton County sales and hotel taxes, Museum Center produced $1.9 million in tax revenue in the past year. While Museum Center maximizes its local assets, it also brings in a significant amount of support from outside the region. Of its 1.36 million visitors in 2013, 38% were from outside of the region.
Santa Ono, PhD, president of the University of Cincinnati, acknowledged Cincinnati Museum Center’s unique role in the region. “This is a collection of museums that few cities have,” Ono said. “It is invaluable to our community.”
Ford W. Bell, DVM, president of the American Alliance of Museums, echoed Ono’s sentiments on a national level. “The combined assets that Cincinnati Museum Center has assembled in that setting – Union Terminal – is impressive and rare and highly coveted.”
The benefits of visitors from outside the Cincinnati region extend beyond their direct influence on Cincinnati Museum Center. Over 63% of Museum Center’s economic impact comes from outside the region, making the institution a major source of revenue and funds flowing into Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Many visitors stay at local hotels, dine at area restaurants and shop at local retailers. In total, visitors from outside the region spent $25 million at hotels, restaurants and shops while in town visiting Cincinnati Museum Center, 85% of that spending occurring within Hamilton County.
Cincinnati Museum Center’s economic impact is aided by the Hamilton County Tax Levy which supports the operating costs of the publicly-owned Union Terminal, and was the source of $3.2 million towards the $114 million total economic impact of the institution. However, Museum Center also generated significant support from local foundations and individuals. The Economics Center found that for every $1 million Museum Center receives from the property tax levy in support of Union Terminal’s operating cost, it receives $2 million in contributions from Hamilton County foundations and individuals. It generates even more revenue from outside Hamilton County, attracting $4.11 million from outside Hamilton County for every $1 million it receives from the Hamilton County Union Terminal Tax Levy, further serving as a driving force of revenue into the region.
“Cincinnati Museum Center contributes to Cincinnatians’ quality of life through its exhibits and programs,” says Jeff Rexhausen, senior research associate of the Economics Center and study director. “It also enhances the region’s quality of living through the prosperity generated by its sizable economic impact. This combination makes it a highly valuable regional asset.”
An educational and cultural asset
The economic impact of Museum Center is made more significant by the cultural and educational impact of the institution. Its over one million visitors each year experience exhibits and programs that expose them to new ideas and motivate them to become active learners.
Dan Lincoln, president of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, touched on Cincinnati Museum Center’s impact on the community. “Having and supporting these special institutions becomes a quality of life issue. These assets that we sometimes take for granted are something other cities can’t remotely match,” Lincoln said. “They need to be nurtured and supported because they offer experiences for us and our children and grandchildren to enjoy and learn from. That’s why they’re so critically important.”
In addition to the more traditional benefits it provides to guests by exposing them to information in a unique and compelling manner, Museum Center is also an invaluable resource to teachers and scholars. Through programs like ECSITE (Early Childhood Science Inquiry Training for Educators), LITE Lab and various lecture series, educators benefit from access to museum resources and have opportunities to sharpen their skills. Cincinnati Museum Center’s nationally-recognized Learning Through Play conference brings together early childhood experts in education, psychology, behavioral sciences, music and art from across the region.
Cincinnati Museum Center’s impact on the community is not limited to educators or paying visitors. Through free admission programs, which let over 75,000 people visit the museums without charge in 2013, Museum Center ensures accessibility for the entire community. Cincinnati Museum Center’s Youth Programs provides unique opportunities to high school students throughout the region from all socio-economic backgrounds. Over 100 students participate in the Youth Programs each year, with 99% of all program graduates continuing on to a 4-year college.
“We support Cincinnati Museum Center Youth Programs because the quality and the results of the program are so remarkable,” said Heidi Jark, foundation manager for Fifth Third Bank. “It affects kids who might not otherwise have had such an opportunity, with impacts continuing into college and career for many of them.”
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: A Differentiator
Cincinnati Museum Center has a history of successfully promoting education and culture through its combination of legacy institutions. In 2012, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center joined Cincinnati Museum Center’s corporate structure. Through the influence and draw of the Freedom Center, several conventions have come to Cincinnati, beginning with the National Baptist Convention and NAACP in 2008. Annually, the Freedom Center’s influence helps produce $8 million in convention impact. The National Urban League convention in 2014 will add to that number and puts Cincinnati into the company of top tier cities.
It was also instrumental in helping to bring the 2015 Major League Baseball All Star Game to Cincinnati.
“The Freedom Center played a critical role in the Reds hosting the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game in 2009 and 2010,” said Phil Castellini, COO of the Cincinnati Reds. “The Freedom Center’s proximity to the ballpark and message were key factors… and ultimately led to securing the bid to host the 2015 All Star Game.”
Based on recent estimates from other cities, the economic impact on the city from the game could be at least $60 million and viewed by 30 million people.
The Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati compiled the economic impact study of Cincinnati Museum Center by utilizing revenue, expenditure and attendance information for the 2013 fiscal year and an economic model (RIMS II) developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The full study can be viewed online at or