A recent study of the annual economic impact created by Maryville College revealed that collectively, eight East Tennessee counties are $85 million richer due to the college’s expenditures and creation of jobs.
The college recently hired Dr. Fred Martin, a local educational consultant, to run the numbers. Looking at a five-year period (2002 to 2007), he estimated that the college contributed $428 million to the region’s economy which is an average of more than $85.5 million a year.
The study focused on three major areas of the college’s economic impact: local business volume generated by college expenditures ($207.5 million); local full-time jobs created by Maryville’s presence (14,900 in five years, including the college’s own 1,558 full-time jobs counted over the five-year period); and individual income generated by college expenditures ($220.4 million).
The counties most economically benefited by the college’s operation include Blount, Knox, Anderson, Hamblen, Loudon, McMinn, Roane and Sevier. Approximately 62 percent of the college’s expenditures are made in those counties, and more than 50 percent of the student population comes from the Nine Counties One Vision region, as well.
Martin said his analysis was based on the Caffrey model, which was developed in 1968 and considered a standard by the American Council on Education. Caffrey is considered more sophisticated and more reliable than other models that simply apply a single economic impact multiplier, Martin explained.
Martin said he wasn’t surprised to find proof that the college is a major economic force in the region.
“Colleges and universities often fuel the economy in the communities where they operate. This study is just an indicator of what kind of an economic engine Maryville College is in the region,” he said, adding that communities with institutions of higher learning often fare better in slower economic times because of their stability.
“Education is always needed,” he said. “Colleges and universities are usually more economically stable because they’ll maintain a relatively constant enrollment. People are willing to sacrifice for education because they see it as paying off, long term.”
The college first hired Martin in 2003 to determine its economic impact in the region. Four years ago, the estimate was $65 million (based on data collected from 1997 to 2002), and has increased since then. Last year, Martin reported a $79 million impact in the eight counties.
Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, Maryville College president, said the increases literally support his longtime vision that the college be an “appreciating asset” in the area.
“While it’s great to show proof that we are a major economic factor in East Tennessee, I also like to point out to people that Maryville College strives to make the region richer in a multitude of ways - by producing graduates who will be educated workers and citizen-leaders in their communities, by offering cultural and entertainment activities for the public, by offering meeting space to area organizations, and by attracting faculty and staff members who bring different perspectives and areas of expertise to larger civic discussions.”
“Contributions such as these are hard to quantify, but I believe most people would agree that they greatly and positively impact the region,” he added.