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Southwest Virginia Community College is impacting its service area with more than $165 million annually, according to a new study.


Published on January 16th, 2020

The report measures the economic impacts created by Southwest on the business community and the benefits the college generates in return for the investments made by key stakeholder groups, students, taxpayers, and society. Emsi, a labor market analytics firm, composed the study. 

To put this number into context, the $165.6 million impact is equal to approximately 4.9% of the total gross regional product of the college’s service area of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell counties. This contribution is slightly larger than the entire manufacturing industry in the region, according to the report.

The results of this study prove what we thought to be true; Southwest Virginia Community College has a profound and positive impact on our service area and the region. Investing in our students is an investment in our local economy that pays back.

Dr. Tommy Wright, President of Southwest Virginia Community College

Thousands of former Southwest students are employed in the college’s service area. As a result of attending Southwest, most of these students receive higher earnings and produce more for the businesses that employ them. In fiscal year 2018-2019, Southwest alumni generated $149.2 million in added income for the regional economy

Some students would have left the area for other educational opportunities if not for Southwest. These students who have been retained in the area because of the college, spend money on groceries, rent and living expenses at regional businesses. The impact of student daily spending added $748.4 thousand dollars of added income to the region, or supported 18 jobs.

The Emsi study also finds that Southwest remains a good investment. For every dollar a student invests at the college, they’ll gain $4.40 in lifetime earnings. Taxpayers gain $2.30 in added tax revenue and public sector savings for every dollar invested and society gains $6.20 in added income and social savings.

The newly developed athletic programs at Southwest are also impacting the local economy. Southwest is serving 171 student-athletes in FY 2019-20. 83 of these athletes are from outside the college’s service area.

The Emsi report finds student-athlete spending and visitor spending impacts the area with nearly $590 thousand; the Office of Institutional Research at Southwest estimates that student-athlete enrollment generates over $1 million from tuition paid and state funding received – bringing the total impact of athletics to over $1.6 million.

Our redeveloped Athletics program is just getting started and we’ve already seen a positive impact on enrollment. Many of our student-athletes come from outside of our service area, which is good for the local economy and the diversity of our campus as well as the region.

Dr. Tommy Wright, President of Southwest Virginia Community College

The college’s annual payroll and spending that is going back into the local community is $15.7 million dollars.  In FY 2018-19, the college employed 375 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, 79% of whom lived in the service area.

The results are for fiscal year 2018-19 and are based on employee and student data and projected data for the new athletic programs.

Emsi has completed more than 2,000 economic impact studies for institutions domestically and abroad. Data and assumptions used in the study are based on several sources, includ­ing the FY 2018-19 academic and financial reports from Southwest, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, outputs of Emsi’s Multi-Regional Social Accounting Matrix model, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior. The study applies a conservative methodology and follows standard practice.

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