MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For a long time residents and tourism officials have always had a deep-seated sense about Lake Martin's economic impact.
"We never had the data to support what we thought," said Lake Martin Area Economic Alliance Director Don McClellan.
They do now. One of the largest independent real estate companies in the country says Lake Martin is worth a pretty penny. $3.4 Billion and that includes development on and near the waterfront.
"The housing on the lake is less than one-fourth of all the houses in the county but we get a lot of property taxes from those homes," said McClellan.
Break it down a little more and you're talking real jobs; 449 jobs tied directly to the lake. More than 3,100 jobs when you factor in all the construction work and that's not all.
Restaurants are booming. Oskar's Cafe, for example, went from 40 seats in a block building to something much bigger and better. Oskar's now seats 120 and employs 55. More than 50 employees at Oskar's but a mere drop compared to the total number of retail jobs related to Lake Martin; 1,200.
Looking back people like Don McClellan realize now more than ever just how valuable the lake was all these years.
"Russell Corporation was a fortune 500 company and they went off-shore in 1998. Thankfully, we had the lake where properties increased in value," McClellan said.
Armed with numbers McClellan and company are now making plans to market the big pond even more. Community meetings are planned. After all, Lake Martin is only 30% developed, according to McClellan.
The study conducted by the Robert Charles Lesser Company was funded by the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance and 6 other economic and governmental agencies.