The Noah’s Ark Theme Park Has Not Led to an Economic Boom in Grant County, Kentucky

When Ken Ham and his merry band of Creationists asked Grant County, Kentucky officials to let them build Ark Encounter in the city of Williamstown, they made their case in large part by saying it would create jobs for people in the community and help surrounding businesses.

We now know that the jobs are limited only to other Christians who share Ken Ham’s beliefs that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married and the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old.

It turns out the Ark hasn’t done anything for businesses either.

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Reporter Scott Wartman of the Cincinnati Enquirer looked at what’s happened since last December, ever since Grant County voted to allow alcohol sales in the area — not just at chain restaurants — hoping to draw in the kinds of hotels and bars you see in other areas with a vibrant, growing population. He found that the economic boom hasn’t happened yet.

Grant County still has the same small number of non-chain restaurants and hotels it had last December. That’s when residents voted to go from a “moist” county with limited alcohol sales to “wet” county for alcohol sales.

Now that bars are allowed, there haven’t been any takers.

“I’m shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” [Judge-executive Steve] Wood said. “We were told [the vote in favor of alcohol sales would] bring restaurants, particularly with the ark. It hasn’t.”

We don’t necessarily know why the businesses haven’t come, but there are a few theories:

The types of businesses that cater to alcohol-drinking customers aren’t swayed by a theme park aimed at fundamentalist Christians.

Despite people visiting Ark Encounter right now, business owners don’t see it as a long-term success and don’t want to invest in the surrounded areas as a result.

Ark Encounter’s existence raised the property values in surrounding areas, pushing away potential businesses.

Whatever the reason is, it seems fair to say that Grant County leaders doubled down on the idea that Ark Encounter would create tremendous economic benefit for everyone in the area. That hasn’t happened yet. There are also no signs that that will change in the future. They gambled and lost, and they were duped by the Creationists who promised them the world.

For the sake of the people in the community, I hope that changes. But if they’re relying on the success of Ark Encounter for that to happen, they may be out of luck.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dan for the link)

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