River Partners and the Local Economy
By Irv Schiffman
At River Partners’ Annual Dinner in April, our Chief Financial Officer, Jessica Bourne, gave a well-received PowerPoint presentation explaining the contributions that River Partners makes to the local and regional economy. We know that many effective and well-managed non-profits contribute greatly to the overall quality of life in their community, but it is, perhaps, less well known that they also contribute to the community’s economic well-being.
Since its establishment some 12 years ago, River Partners has received over $45,000,000 in grants and contracts from a diverse body of governmental and private sources and presently has an annual budget of about $5,000,000 a year. During this time we have completed over one hundred projects, restored more than 6,400 acres and put more than 1,000,000 plants in the ground. Virtually all of the money used in completing these projects is spent locally for salaries, purchases, and rents.
Riparian restoration is a multi-faceted scientific, engineering and agriculturallike endeavor that generally requires the hiring of mapping consultants, irrigation specialists, hydraulic analysts, and hydroseeding contractors. The fieldwork we perform is, of course, labor intensive, and over the years we have hired hundreds of workers for clearing and planting activity.
The jobs created by River Partners have a multiplier effect that also contributes to the local economy. An employment multiplier study by the University of Massachusetts looking at the direct effects (jobs created) and induced effects (worker consumption) of restoration activity concludes that approximately 40 jobs are generated for every $1,000,000 spent.
Beyond employment, our grant and contract funds are used to purchase thousands of plants from local and regional nurseries and we estimate that over our lifetime we have spent more than $1,000,000 in local purchases of tractors, gators, equipment carriers, and vehicles. In addition, we make use of local banking, legal, and accounting services. We purchased our Chico office building some six years ago and rent office space in the City of Modesto.
Donations by River Partners members also help bring additional funds into our community by allowing us to undertake the time and research necessary to identify opportunities and then to leverage the relatively small amount of private dollars into significantly sized habitat purchases and restoration projects. In sum, in its efforts to carry out its mission of creating “wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment,” River Partners has been able to create green jobs in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and contribute in other ways to the growing of their local economies.