In 2011, after many years of study, Rutgers University finished a landmark economic impact analysis of Route 66. Conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF), The Route 66 Economic Impact Report* worked to capture the diverse history and rich culture of this famed highway. It also started to quantify its great economic contribution. For example, the original study documented annual direct spending related to Route 66 from various sources (e.g., traveler spending and museum budgets) of about $132 million annually, with additional benefits from multiplier effects to the economy (e.g., $262 million in overall, direct and multiplier, economic output and $126 million in wealth creation.
It is now more than a decade later, and Route 66, as it always has, forges ahead in its unique way. During these past years, diverse communities along this affectionately titled “Mother Road” have enjoyed bountiful economic activity and, at the same time, faced daunting economic challenges – in particular the recent global COVID pandemic, which stopped most travel in its tracks. Route 66 has focused on the path forward and warrants revisiting. Thus, Rutgers University and the Route 66: The Road Ahead Partnership – a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 to preserve, promote and revitalize the historic corridor – conducted this follow–up investigation. While this study is just a start to a continued, needed, much broader–scale analysis, it is opportune to revisit the Mother Road.
The current investigation comprises four components:
- Detailed case study investigation of individual Route 66 communities
- Survey of a larger number of communities along the Mother Road concerning economic development
- Reconnaissance analysis of the market potential from the household consumption of the population residing near this famed highway
- Overview of potential economic development (and other supportive) programs for Route 66