Fox Locks economic impact study released

Posted on Oct 27, 2017 by

The full Economic Impact Study is available to download at this link.

(Kaukauna, WI) Oct. 27, 2017–According to an economic impact study, the Fox River Lock System could generate as much as $290 million in total economic output over a ten year period and generate as many as 6,300 additional jobs. The study further indicates a fully operational lock system could generate $99 million in additional business investment over the same time period. The study was conducted by Dr. David Fuller of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh economics department.

“The last ten years of lock restoration and resulting riverside development has been significant,” Fuller said. “The most important impact is the potential future value of the system”

From 2005-2015 the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) restored 16 of the 17 locks on the system at an investment of $14.5 million. The lock at Rapide Croche remains closed as a physical barrier to prevent invasive aquatic species from the Great Lakes invading the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. In early September 2015 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requested closing the Menasha lock to prevent the invasive round goby from entering Lake Winnebago. Currently the river is navigable from Menasha to Kaukauna; then from Wrightstown north to the bay of Green Bay.

“Despite the closure of Menasha, we have already seen significant riverfront developments in Appleton and the DePere area,” said Dr. Tim Rose, chairman of the FRNSA, “The locks are fully functional now, but being able to use all the locks on the river would have an enormous economic effect on the region.”

Prior to the closure of the Menasha lock on September 5, 2015, FRNSA recorded 21,692 boat passengers went through the lock system. In 2016, 18,337 passengers went through the lock system. In 2017, 18,932 passengers went through the locks and locks at Combined Locks and Little Chute were in operation.

“Menasha and DePere are historically our busiest locks,” Rose said, “but the potential for increased traffic through the system is evident.”

The economic impact study measured four specfic senarios and the impact each would have over a ten year time period.

The first scenario assumes both the Menasha lock and the Rapide Croche lock remain closed. Under this scenario, the impact is projected:

  • $42.9 million in additional total output
  • $26 million in additional labor income
  • 939 additional jobs
  • $14.6 million in additional business investment

The second scenario assumes the Menasha lock is open and a boat transfer station is built at the Rapide Croche lock. The FRNSA board of directors has approved a proposal to build a boat transfer/cleaning station at the Rapide Croche lock to enable navigation and continue to prevent the spread of invasive species. Under this scenario, the impact is projected:

  • $210 million in additional total output
  • $127.7 million in additional labor income
  • 4,595 additional jobs
  • $71.8 million in additional business investment

The second scenario would require FRNSA and the DNR to agree on a solution to prevent invasive species from entering Lake Winnebago and the Fox River at both the Rapide Croche barrier and the Menasha Lock. “Clearly, any solution will take some time to develop and implement and we are working toward this goal,” Rose said.

The third scenario assumes the Menasha lock remains closed and a boat transfer station is built at the Rapide Croche lock. Under this scenario, the impact is projected:

  • $167.7 million in additional total output
  • $102 million in additional labor income
  • 3,669 additional jobs
  • $57.3 million in additional business investment

The fourth scenario assumes that the entire Fox River is navigable through all 17 locks AND a proposed Visitor Center is built at Appleton’s Lock #3 near Lawe Street. The The FRNSA board of directors has approved a proposal to accept bids to construct a $1.8 million Visitor Center at this lock. Under this scenario, the impact is projected:

  • $290 million in additional total output
  • $176 million in additional labor income
  • 6,339 additional jobs
  • $99 million in additional business investment

Officials from FRNSA say any of these scenarios would be phased in over a period of years.

The Fox River flows 39 miles from Lake Winnebago to the bay of Green Bay with locks at Menasha, four locks in Appleton, Cedars, Little Chute, Combined Locks, five locks through Kaukauna, Rapide Croche, Little Kaukauna (also known as Little Rapids, and DePere.

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