DALLAS The Dallas Arboretum is expected to announce Thursday that its new facilities and programs are pumping more than $170 million a year into the North Texas economy.

How? By investing in:

  • Major flagship projects like The Children's Adventure Garden
  • Nuts and bolts infrastructure, like an 1,100-car garage being built on Garland Road
  • Big, splashy exhibits like the Dale Chihuly sculpture exhibit in 2012.

So, is a garden supposed to be beautiful... or is it supposed to be economic driver for our community?

'Well, I would hope it could be both,' said Dallas Arboretum president Mary Brinegar.

The Arboretum hired SMU to study the facility's economic impact over the last two years, just as the facility broadened its community reach. Brinegar said the study found an almost $172 million economic impact in 2012 and $170 million in 2013.

'We are impacting not only the quality of life in this city, but we're bringing good business into the city,' she said.

In 2012, attendance jumped 42 percent in response to the popular Dale Chihuly exhibit. Last year, based on the popularity of the $62 million Children's Garden, attendance was up 10 percent.

The Arboretum is hoping for another good year iin 2014, serving close to 900,000 visitors.

'We're on an upward spiral,' Brinegar said.

Economic impact shows the ripple effect of how an institution enhances the local economy, providing things like construction jobs.

It's an effect that should continue. On Thursday, the City of Dallas will consider the Arboretum's $366,000 purchase of properties across the street, on Gaston Avenue, to create new employee parking.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com