Report: Economic Impact of New Library Projected to Redirect Millions to Kennett
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
the year, the Historic Kennett Square Economic Development Council invites
stakeholders to its meetings who play – or are about to play – a major role in
the economy of Kennett Square and its neighboring towns and municipalities.
Usually, the welcome seat at the Council’s table comes in the form of an individual or group who introduces a new initiative, program or interest designed to stimulate economic growth and provide opportunities for local business owners.
At the Council’s Sept. 18 online meeting, however, that visiting stakeholder was an 11,000 square-foot building on State Street that by the end of 2022 will expand to more than 30,000 square feet.
During the meeting, the library was introduced as a potentially major economic driver for the Kennett Square community.
As part of his update on the construction of the new Kennett Square Library – scheduled to begin construction in July 2021 and be completed in December 2022 – Board President Jeff Yetter told the Council that the new library will lead to a doubling of annual library visitations from those who live within the eight municipalities the library serves, and from those who live outside the service area.
That’s a lot of people, he said, who will not only help define the new Kennett Library and Resource Center when it opens, but spend money at local restaurants, retail stores and other businesses in the Kennett Square Borough and beyond.
‘Feet on the Street’
“I served for eight years on the Historic Kennett Square Board of Directors, and the one phrase I remember hearing over and over was ‘Feet on the Street,’ in order to answer the question, ‘How are we going to get more people to our businesses?’” Yetter said. “We anticipate the new library will go from 120,000 visitors a year to nearly one quarter of a million visitors. That’s going to bring more people into Kennett Square, to restaurants, to shops and have a major impact on a day to day basis.
“In terms of return on investment, last year we returned over $5 to the community in services for every dollar that was invested [in the library].”
Yetter’s projections are supported by the data that has been collected in the Kennett Square Library Economic Impact Study. Completed in February, the study’s combined analysis and projections give clear evidence that the new library will pump millions into the local economy, during construction and after it opens.
- From 2021 to 2022, new library construction is expected to support 51 direct temporary jobs and generate $7.72 million in total labor income; $10.92 million in added value income; and $19.03 million in total output income throughout Chester County.
- For every dollar invested in the new Kennett Library and Resource Center during construction, $1.05 will be generated into Kennett Square, and $1.36 will be generated within the entire county.
- By 2023, the library’s first full year of operation, the new library staffing will require 5.5 new full- and part-time jobs that will generate and additional $221,777 in wages and benefits.
- When direct, indirect and induced impacts are combined, new library jobs and employee compensation is expected to support 11 permanent jobs and generate $615,270 in labor income, $1.36 million in value added income, and $3.18 million in total income for Chester County.
- Within Chester County overall, new non-local visitor spending, new jobs and rental revenue is expected to support 23 total full and part-time jobs and generate $1.15 million in labor income, $2.12 million in value added and 4.44 million in total output.
- By 2023, the projected increase in the number of “local” and “non-local” visitors to the library is anticipated to contribute to $1.89 million in visitor spending. For every dollar spent by a “non-local” visitor in Kennett Square, an additional 41 cents flows into the overall local economy.
The new facility, which will be built at the corner of East State Street and South Willow Street, will include two 30-seat classrooms; children’s and adult maker spaces; a multipurpose room; tutor, group and quiet rooms; a 110-seat auditorium with a stage; 19 parking spaces; and offer state-of-the art technology tools, access to information and bigger footprint for the more than 1,000 programs the library offers every year.
Yetter said that current fundraising efforts to pay for the estimated $18 million new library have raised nearly $8.4 million in committed contributions, with a capital campaign scheduled to begin in January 2021.
The campaign has also received additional contributions from six of the eight municipalities the library serves, first posed as two non-mandatory options in 2019 that would allow the municipalities to contribute about $3 million over three years -- of the needed funding. The Library requested each municipality to contribute an amount equal to 3 years of .3 mils property taxes. This formula was chosen to fairly spread the request over the eight municipalities.
The options were:
Option 1. Institute a .3 mill real estate tax in the township for a period of three years, which would be added to the capital costs needed to fund the building of the library; or
Option 2. Make an annual contribution out of their general fund equal to the a .3 mill real estate tax in the township for a period of three years
‘Libraries are universal’
Yetter said that every municipality who has made a contribution has chosen Option #2, with a few choosing to contribute over the course of the next six years.
Raising the needed funding for the new library is being done in close alignment with the library’s construction schedule, which Yetter spelled out to the Council: the building’s schematic design has been completed; design development began in January; value engineering should be finished by October; construction drawings will be completed by next March; construction permits will be in place next April; and construction will begin next July.
As both the construction and fundraising continue to progress side by side, Yetter said that the support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The benefit we have here is that libraries are universal,” he said. “If you didn’t go to a library when you were young with your parents, you went to one in elementary school and in high school. When you had small kids and needed a break? You took them to the library, and then you became a grandparent and where do you take your grandkids now? You go back to the library.
“There are over 45,000 people in our service area, and every one of them has a connection to a library.”
Thomas Swett, chairman of the library’s Capital Campaign, compared the future mission of the new Kennett Library with that of the Route 9 Library & InnovationCenter in New Castle, Del., which has become a vibrant, experiential, learning-focused facility tailored to the needs of the community.
It’s a community resource with all sorts of ancillary components to help citizens of a region have access to information, but who are trepidatious about how to obtain that information,” he said. “Walking into the comfortable environment of a ‘library and resource center’ is conducive to fulfilling that goal, and that is one of the components of what is going to happen in Kennett Square.
“We’re in the reassurance business. We’re in the business of supplying opportunity to a whole spectrum of people.”
To learn more about the Kennett Library and Resource Center capital campaign, visit www.campaign4kenettlibrary.org.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].