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Salvation Army’s Kroc Community Center Demonstrates Economic Halo Effect, Adds $15M+ to Local Economy

Mario Zacharjasz AIA
Mario Zacharjasz AIA

This fall,¬†The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Philadelphia¬†will celebrate five years of providing residents of North Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood with a state-of-the-art facility addressing the economic, educational, health, recreational and spiritual needs of the community.

The Center is one of the largest and most comprehensive community centers on the East Coast, and five years after its opening, The Salvation Army of the USA has conducted new research quantifying the economic effects in the surrounding neighborhoods from this multi-million dollar investment in an underprivileged community. Conservatively, the Kroc Center of Philadelphia contributes more than $15,264,051 annually in local value, bringing economic and social vitality to the community.
“The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Philadelphia was a complete game-changer for the level of service and impact we are able to provide in this city,” said Major Robert Dixon, Director of Operations for The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia.

“While the numbers in this study are impressive, the qualitative and quantitative positive impact of this resource is immeasurable. It has helped to revitalize a struggling community and brought growth, healing, learning and joy to the tens of thousands of people it has touched.”

Major Robert Dixon, Director of Operations for The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia

The project investment, which was concluded in 2010, exceeded $130 million dollars. The 130,000-square foot super community center is situated on 12.4 acres located at the junction of several of North Philadelphia’s most troubled neighborhoods. The center effectively doubled the amount of services that The Salvation Army previously provided in Greater Philadelphia, and it has enhanced quality of life for nearby residents by providing a safe environment with an emphasis on fitness and health, the arts and opportunities to build social connections.

Researchers at Partners for Sacred Places and McClanahan Associates, Inc., considered direct spending by the Center; the value of people getting and staying healthier; the magnet effect of induced spending in the local community by center visitors; the value of day care that allows parents to work; and other factors to quantify the positive effects of this resource.

Key statistics from the research report include:

The Center employs 50 full-time staff and 97 part-time staff with an emphasis on hiring from the community. The Center’s spending results in an annual local impact of $6,433,070

One of the Kroc Center’s main focuses is health and fitness, striving to remedy health disparities faced by individuals from low income communities by providing access to robust and high quality fitness and wellness activities. Value to the community totals $2,285,316 annually.

The “magnet effect” of attracting both regular and out of town visitors for routine and special events infuses $1,713,482 into the local economy annually.

By providing in-kind support for a wide range of programs and events that serve the wider public, including free or inexpensive space and subsidized activities for community organizations, the Center’s “safety net” impact on the community is valued at $4,052,620 annually.

Separately, the study measured the one-time impact of construction-related spending on each center. Philadelphia’s construction spending totaled $143,745,168 to build the Center, which created 1,086 local jobs.

Beyond these quantitative positive effects, the community has also seen impact related to individual counseling that helped keep families together, taught social values and skills, helped people find jobs, and more. Local resident Nicole Brown shares how The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Philadelphia helped her in a time of personal crisis.

“On May 28, 2013, my only child was viciously gunned down on the streets of Philadelphia. When I heard the news, I thought I, too, would die. It was following that event that some of my greatest friendships were formed with my fellow Kroc members,” said Nicole. “Coming to the Kroc Center is my form of therapy. Joining was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I have gained so much more than I could have ever anticipated.”

“We are thrilled to see the incredible impact this Center has made in one of our city’s neediest communities,” said Major Dennis Gensler, Administrator of The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Philadelphia.