Clemson's Garrison arena adds nearly $9 million to Upstate economy
CLEMSON — Tucked into the trees that line Pendleton’s West Queen Street is a facility that draws some 100,000 visitors per year and generates $8.9 million in total economic impact for Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.
The T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena at Clemson University brings visitors from 20 states and Canada to horse shows, dog shows and other events, resulting in spending for lodging, meals and shopping.
The S.C. Upstate Equine Council commissioned the economic impact study, which found that every dollar spent by arena visitors generated more than $2 in total economic activity for the three-county area.
“The Garrison arena is one of the premier multipurpose livestock facilities in the Southeast,” said Steve Meadows, chief operating officer for Clemson University Cooperative Extension. “It’s South Carolina’s only full-service, public facility designed to promote the state’s $1.5 billion livestock industry.”
Tom Herbster, vice chairman of the S.C. Upstate Equine Council, said, “Our organization supports equine activities in the Upstate. We believe equine activities, with Garrison arena as the hub, can positively affect economic growth in the area.”
Glenn Brill, director of Anderson County’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Division, agreed.
“We see an immediate boost for Anderson businesses when there’s an event at the Garrison arena,” he said.
The Garrison arena has the largest indoor show ring (88,000 square feet) in a 200-mile radius that includes the Georgia International Horse Park in Atlanta, Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Asheville, Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in Tryon, South Carolina Equine Park in Camden and Tennessee Livestock Center in Murfreesboro. In addition to the show ring, the Garrison arena offers 50 miles of trails used by an average of 250 horseback riders each week in the adjacent Clemson Experimental Forest.
The study found that the Garrison arena has potential to grow and could significantly expand its economic impact if additional equine event facilities were built, including a cross-country course, a dedicated jumper ring and dedicated dressage rings. These upgrades are estimated to cost approximately $500,000.
The economic impact study commissioned by the Equine Council was conducted by the University Center for Economic Development at Clemson. Authors are David Hughes, professor and Clemson Extension rural economic development economist and professor in the School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences; and Devin Swindall, research associate. Both are based at the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development in Columbia.