Higher education’s annual impact in southwest Ohio: $7.3 billion

Southwest Ohio’s colleges had a nearly $7.3 billion impact on the region in 2016, even as some have struggled to stay afloat in the hyper competitive industry of higher education.

The Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education has released its economic impact study which analyzes the spending of the group’s 22 members, including Wright State University, the University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College and others. The student was conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.

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The report comes at a time when colleges are being sharply criticized for their cost, accessibility and effectiveness but SOCHE president Sean Creighton said it should quiet some of the doubters.

“We’re hoping that it maybe counters that argument,” Creighton said. “We have such a diversity of institutions. I think that (the report) makes the case for why it’s important to invest in higher education.’

Nearly 150,000 students are studying and living in the region. and student tuition, research dollars and alumni giving generate around $3.8 billion in new revenue in th region, according to the report.

The report also shows that SOCHE’s member colleges awarded 31,643 degrees and certificates in 2016, which is good news for Ohio as the state has struggled to keep up with an increasing demand for an educated workforce. Combined, the schools also employed more than 72,000 people in 2016 and provided more than $2.6 billion in earnings, according to the report.

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“SOCHE and its members are a cornerstone of southwestern Ohio, developing the talent necessary for the economy to thrive,” the report reads.

Wright State has more than a $1 billion annual economic impact on the region and supports over 14,000 jobs, according to the study. Wright State’s impact was created by its operations, student spending and capital expenditures

“This study shows that we are clearly a leader in driving the economy in this region,” said Wright State President Cheryl B. Schrader.

On top of the boon to local employers and economies, the report also found that area colleges provide massive tax dollars to state and local governments. Municipal and county governments received around $72.9 million in tax revenue from SOCHE’s member schools while the state received more than $225 million in gross tax revenues from area institutions, according to the report.

“SOCHE’s impact study reinforces the role of higher education as a regional economic driver,” said Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State Community College and chair of the SOCHE’s board. “Through changing times and economic climates, our two- and four-year institutions have continued to provide the quality training and education needed for individuals to better themselves.”

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