Horses mean Millions
Aiken's long term love affair with horses is alive, well, and riding high. The popular industry continues to attract horse enthusiasts from around the world, and the number of equine disciplines has grown - and so has the economic impact of this historically revered industry in Aiken.
A 2008 study, "An Economic Profile of Aiken County and the Economic Impact of the Equine Industry," done by the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) School of Business for the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, revealed the following:
The equine industry's economic impact in Aiken County tops $72 million.
The impact of the equestrian industry on household income is estimated to be $19.71 million annually.
The study also showed that the Equine Industry is the third largest industry group in Aiken. The majority of the equestrian activities are pleasure related (48 percent), followed by competition (21 percent), breeding (18 percent), and racing (13 percent).
"This is why we must preserve, support and grow the equine industry in Aiken County," said Samantha Charles, an equine enthusiast who serves on the Chamber's board of directors.
"I've seen horse communities that have been squeezed out by over development, loss of open space, and a lack of understanding of equine as a valuable industry. It is imperative that we work together with long range goals to protect this revered industry here in Aiken County," Charles said.
The Chamber's Equine Steering Committee focuses on four key areas: conservation/open space and integrated trails, governmental affairs, marketing, and an international horse park.