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Study Reveals Private Colleges, Universities Add $1.42 Billion to State Economy

Study Reveals Private Colleges, Universities Add $1.42 Billion to State Economy

Nebraska’s independent colleges and universities contribute $1.42 billion to the state’s economy and support more than 11,000 jobs, according to a new economic impact study by Ernie Goss, Ph.D., professor of economics at Creighton University.

To educate their 26,000 students, the state’s 14 private colleges and universities spend $500 million each year and employ 4,888 full-time faculty and staff members. The spillover effect of those expenditures totals $900 million annually and creates approximately 6,300 jobs, Goss reported.

“It is clear that private colleges and universities play a key role in the Nebraska economy, directly creating jobs and supporting a great deal of economic activity in their communities and statewide,” Goss said.

Statewide, the retail trade industry received the greatest boost, with 5,303 jobs, $91.8 million in wages and $211.3 million in sales attributed to independent colleges and universities, their students and employees. The construction industry followed, with 864 jobs, $74 million in sales and $27.5 million in wages. In all 381 of Nebraska’s 507 industries, or approximately 75 percent, are positively impacted by the state’s independent colleges and universities, the study concluded.

Goss reported that the presence of an independent college or university in a community had a positive impact on both personal income and population growth in their counties. Personal income in Nebraska counties with an independent college or university grew 80 percent from 1990 to 2000, compared with income growth of 45.2 percent in other counties. Likewise, counties with an independent college or university experienced 13 percent population growth from 1990-2000, compared to 3 percent in other counties.

“These figures illustrate the ‘brain gain’ that occurs in communities with independent colleges and universities as they attract highly educated faculty from across the country and as students graduate and pursue career opportunities in the area,” Goss said.

Linda Beaver, executive director of the Nebraska Educational Finance Authority (NEFA), said the economic impact, while significant, is only part of the story.

“In addition to the concrete, positive economic impacts demonstrated by this study, there are a wide range of intangible benefits that private colleges and universities bring to their communities and the state. These include beneficial partnerships with area businesses, outreach into local schools, philanthropic support of community needs, cultural and entertainment opportunities for local residents and the vibrancy and volunteerism that intelligent, engaged young people add to a community,” Beaver said.

“This clearly illustrates the important role that independent colleges and universities play in Nebraska’s higher education system,” Beaver said.

Goss is professor of economics at Creighton University and holds the MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at the Omaha institution. His study was commissioned by NEFA.

NEFA assists private institutions of higher education in the state of Nebraska in the construction, financing, and refinancing of needed educational facilities, equipment and structures by means other than the appropriation of public funds.

Additional support for the Goss study was provided by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Nebraska (AICUN) and the Nebraska Independent College Foundation (NICF).

Nebraska’s private colleges:

  •  Bellevue University (Bellevue)
  •  Clarkson College (Omaha)
  •  College of St. Mary (Omaha)
  •  Concordia University (Seward)
  •  Creighton University (Omaha)
  •  Dana College (Blair)
  •  Doane College (Crete)
  •  Grace University (Omaha)
  •  Hastings College (Hastings)
  •  Midland Lutheran College (Fremont)
  •  Nebraska Methodist College (Omaha)
  •  Nebraska Wesleyan University (Lincoln)
  •  Union College (Lincoln)
  •  York College (York).
Posted: 9/15/06