Conner Prairie makes impact on local economy


By Renee Larr

Conner Prairie recently commissioned a study to gauge its economic impact on the local economy. The study, finalized in July by Certec Inc., found Conner Prairie infused $39.1 million into Indiana’s economy in 2016. That’s an increase of $5.9 million from 2014, the date of the last study.


“We look at these types of economical and educational impacts every couple of years so we can see what our growth is, and so we can make a case in the community of what we’re providing, both as an educational institution and a nonprofit organization,” said Norman Burns, president and CEO of Conner Prairie.  “These economic indicators help with that in terms of what type of impact we have on unemployment, tax collection and hiring.”

Changes made in the last two years to programs contributed to attendance growth by  families and schools.

“We had two significant changes in 2016. The opening of the treetop outpost in July of 2016 was a huge boost to attendance and membership,” Burns said. “Of course, that spring we also opened the re-imagined Conner House. We had record attendance for Headless Horseman in 2016. All of those are contributing factors for our growth in attendance.”

All changes are carefully considered.

“We have a strategic plan we’ve been operating under for the last several years. When we revise that plan, we are looking at a new strategic plan that will start in 2019,” Burns said.

Conner Prairie employs more than 400 people and served more than 60,000 students last year.

“We have a huge educational impact, both in the classroom with student education as well as family education. We take that first and foremost with our mission to foster learning. We feel like we’re a good steward, both as an educational institution and a draw to this community,” Burns said.

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