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Study: Mont Alto campus packs economic punch

December 01, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Economic impact on a community - nation, state, county or town - begins when an organization spends money, and the Pennsylvania State University spends a lot of it every year, a financial report drafted by a private consultant commissioned by the university said.

Penn State's main campus in State College, Pa., and its 24 satellite campuses, including the one in Mont Alto, Pa., contributed more than $6.1 billion to the statewide economy last year, according to the report released Tuesday.

The Mont Alto campus' share of the total was nearly $44.5 million to the state. Nearly $20 million of that was contributed to Franklin County's economy, David C. Gnage, campus executive officer, said Tuesday.

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According to the study, Penn State pumps more into the state's economy than other leading economic entities such as airport hubs, professional sports teams and arts and cultural organizations.

The purpose of the study, conducted by Tripp Umbach & Associates, was to analyze economic factors spurred by the university and gauge its value to the commonwealth. Factors considered were government revenue; the impact of students, employees and alumni; and research, according to the University's Web site.

Gnage said that based on the study, Penn State is driving approximately 2 percent of the state's overall business volume - or $1 out of every $50 in the Pennsylvania economy.

It is also among the top 10 research facilities in the country, he said. Last year, it attracted more than $545 million in industry-sponsored research.

The university returned $1.56 cents in tax revenue for every $1 the state spent on the school, he said.

More than 83,000 students are in the Penn State system. Mont Alto has 1,028 on the campus this school year, Gnage said.

Penn State graduates earn an average salary that is $9,854 higher than the average salaries of graduates of all other colleges and universities in the state, including the University of Pennsylvania, he said.

Gnage said he was surprised to learn of the impact the university has on Pennsylvania's economy and the impact his own campus has on Franklin County.

"More important is that we are producing educational opportunities for our students," he said. "We are helping to meet the local community needs."

An example, Gnage said, is Mont Alto's allied health programs, which area helping to reduce the nursing shortage in Franklin County. The campus offers a four-year nursing degree, one of four baccalaureate programs at the school.

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