Study: WV Thoroughbreds Big Part of Economy

The study by West Virginia University shows economic impact of $191.1 million.

A study released March 2 shows the Thoroughbred industry in Jefferson County, W.Va., has a $191.1 million economic impact on the area known as the Eastern Panhandle.

The study, done by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics on behalf of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association, is based on 2010 research.

The groups unveiled the study March 2 at the Capitol building in Charleston. Horsemen and breeders are attempting to further educate lawmakers on the value of a year-round racing and breeding program linked to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the most successful property in Penn National Gaming Inc.’s portfolio.

The study shows the Thoroughbred industry is responsible for 1,450 jobs, $36.3 million in employee compensation, and $1.9 in assorted state taxes.

“I didn’t realize how important the Thoroughbred horse industry was to Jefferson County until we started this process,” Dr. Tom Witt, director of the business school, said in a statement. “This industry is composed of owners, breeders, and trainers, many of whom reside in and around Charles Town, as well as an extensive network of veterinarians, feed suppliers, equine supply stores, insurance agents, and others in the region.”

Witt and other researchers said the figures in the study are “conservative” because they don’t include operational aspects of the Charles Town racetrack casino or money spent by visitors to the county.

The study was based upon surveys of owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys, in particular their annual operating expenses in 2010. The study found that some breeders had made significant capital investments in breeding facilities.