Over 100 people are employed at the Green Bank Observatory year round, and another 40 seasonal jobs are added each summer. Based on the most recent census, this means roughly 5% of the total work force in Pocahontas County is employed by the Green Bank Observatory.
Green Bank Observatory’s employees contribute greatly to the State, from working as emergency service personnel in the region through coaching school sports, but living in Pocahontas County they directly influence the economy there on a daily basis. Green Bank’s salary base exceeds $14 million, and State economic studies have shown that, of this amount of base wage, the average expenditure of base wage used for all living expenses is 79%. Therefore, Green Bank employees directly contribute nearly $11.1 million to the economy. Taking into account the ripple effect, that number reaches an amazing $17.76 million.
Those familiar with Green Bank Observatory know that education and public outreach are at the center of this strong research-oriented facility, and 50,000 visitors each year come to take part in the many tourist and teaching opportunities provided by the staff. In addition to spending time at the facility, these visitors also contribute considerably to the West Virginia and Pocahontas County economies. It is estimated that the visitors to the site spend approximately $150 per day for items such as transportation, lodging, meals, entertainment, and recreation. The Observatory guests, therefore, spend roughly $7.5 million dollars per year in West Virginia for their visits. But the effect doesn’t stop there. Every dollar a tourist spends in West Virginia creates a ripple of economic activity. The multiplier used in West Virginia is 1.6 to estimate the total impact of tourism dollars. Employing this multiplier increases the annual contribution of Observatory’s visitors to roughly $12 million.
Combined, it is easy to see that the Green Bank Observatory contributes a staggering $29.76 million to the County and State economies.