When it comes to defining just what makes Columbia — and, by extension, Howard County — such a good place to live, it’s not just the camps, gyms and lakes, plus the pathways, ponds, pools and programs.
It’s also the thriving economy.
The Columbia Association (CA) plays a large role in the economy, both directly and indirectly, with its employees (up to 1,600 of them at the seasonal peak) spending their money locally and statewide. Columbia has become an attractive place to learn, live, work, play and age — in large part because of what CA began to create more than 45 years ago and has continued to sustain and improve ever since.
That’s according to Howard S. Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group Inc., which recently completed a CA-commissioned study of CA’s economic impact.
CA employees residing in Columbia have an annual economic impact of nearly $9.7 million, Kohn said. Those residing in Howard County, including Columbia, have an impact of more than $15.5 million. And those residing outside of the county have an impact of more than $13.6 million, for a total impact statewide of more than $29 million.
CA also affects property values, Kohn said, noting that he compared home values in Columbia to those in other locations in Howard County — places that also have quality schools and a strategic location.
Being in Columbia, he determined, adds a minimum of 3.9 percent more to the average sale price of a home, or about $12,340. Based on the average sale price in 2011 of more than $316,000, the minimum impact CA has on housing values in total in Columbia is more than $328.5 million.
There’s another $664 million impact on commercial properties, Kohn said, and $47.5 million on industrial property.
“You are a very big business, and you have a tremendous impact as a result of that,” he said. “If you weren’t intrinsically linked to Columbia and said you wanted to move … you’d be getting offers all over the place to do that.”
Written by David Greisman