Study: Huntington College a boon to business

School contributes $16.4 million to local economy each year

HUNTINGTON, IN JANUARY 21, 1997 --- Huntington College adds $16.4 million dollars per year to the local economy and creates many jobs in Huntington County, according to a report released by the Indiana Conference of Higher Education (ICHE).

ICHE commissioned a study of the economic impact of Indiana's colleges and universities. Research was conducted by Dr. Kevin McNamara, associate professor, and Ms. Brenda Mills, economic development specialist, of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

McNamara and Mills examined economic activity generated by 59 institutions of higher learning during the 1993-94 school year. They measured the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of schools' purchases, payments, and payrolls. They conclude that higher education contributes more than $8.3 billion annually to the Hoosier economy.

The individualized report prepared for Huntington College indicates that $6.4 million of direct spending by the College generated an additional $4.1 million in spending within the county in 1993-94, resulting in a total "sales impact" of $10.5 million.

The same year, Huntington College had a payroll of $3.1 million. Household spending by faculty and staff created a ripple effect in the local economy totaling $5.8 million.

This economic activity created an additional 60 jobs in the county for those who supply goods and services to the College, its personnel and student body.

"The report is actually rather conservative because of its narrow scope," explained Ann McPherren, associate professor of business and economics at Huntington College. "The ICHE study examined direct, indirect, and induced spending by the College and its personnel, but did not take into consideration spending by students or auxiliary enterprises such as our catering services at the Habecker Dining Commons. Nor did it examine the revenue generated by athletic events, Merillat Centre performances, or our summer conference programs."

These enterprises can have a significant economic impact. David Spangler, member of the Huntington County Tourism Commission, notes that much of the county's increased revenue from the 5% lodging tax is paid by the thousands of visitors attracted by the College's summer conferences. (The College is expecting 3,553 visitors to attend the 27 conferences planned for the summer of 1997. )

McPherren says the economic impact of HC students should not be underestimated. From independent research conducted in 1995-96, McPherren estimates that the College's student body spends an additional $14,000 per week in the local economy. In addition, more than 86% of tuition revenue, or nearly $4 million per year, is paid by students recruited from outside Huntington County. "And it is difficult to pin a price tag on the thousands of hours of volunteer service our students contribute to the local community, " she adds.

McPherren also notes that the ICHE study was based on budget figures from the 1993-94 school year, when enrollment at Huntington College was 578. After three record-breaking recruiting years, enrollment this fall was 726, an increase of almost 26%. The College now employs more people and spends more money to serve the needs of its larger student body.

Huntington College was founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. For 100 years, Huntington College has offered high-quality academic programs "to equip men and women to impact our world for Christ." Located on a contemporary, wooded campus in Huntington, Indiana, the four-year liberal arts college offers graduate and undergraduate programs in nearly 50 academic concentrations.

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Heather Barkley
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