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Study - Wilson provides $12.5 million to economy

July 14, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - From salaries paid to its employees to pizzas purchased by its students, Wilson College has a direct economic benefit to the region of $12.5 million per year, according to a study by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

"While Wilson's educational, cultural and environmental impact is well-known in our region, few fully understand how powerful Wilson is as an economic engine," President Lorna Edmundson said in a statement issued by the college Wednesday. "A line in our Alma Mater says it best ... 'She is small, but she is mighty.'"

The study looked at the economic benefit to Pennsylvania of its 94 independent colleges and universities, which include Carnegie Mellon University and Villanova. Statewide, the total was estimated at $18.3 billion.

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The study estimated institutional expenditures for Wilson at $3.66 million; student expenditures at $2.2 million; visitor and tourist spending at $1.5 million; and staff and faculty spending at more than $4.5 million.

"There are a whole host of things" involved in keeping a college such as Wilson running," Edmundson said in a telephone interview. "It's food. It's energy. It's upkeep on facilities ... We have a 300-acre campus."

"Technology is another thing you have to continually upgrade," she said.

"Student expenditures do not include what students spend on room and board, but what students spend in the community," Wilson spokeswoman Cathy Mentzer said. "It's books, supplies, travel, pizzas, entertainment."

In the fall of 2004, Wilson had 776 students - 317 in the College for Women and 459 in the College for Continuing Education, she said.

The study does not look at staff and faculty spending purely as a matter of what they are paid. The report stated the $4.5 million figure is 80 percent of their pay, with the balance going to taxes, Social Security and savings.

Mentzer said the figure is an estimate of what employees spend in the community on mortgages, vehicles, groceries and other expenses. Wilson has 160 full-time and 87 part-time employees, she said.

Mentzer said visitor and tourist spending includes more than the money parents and prospective students pay for hotels and meals. The $1.5 million also includes economic activity generated by conferences and other events hosted by the college, such as two recent one-week music camps.

Edmundson said the college also hosts alumni reunions and that colleges typically have five times as many prospective students visit a campus than will enroll.

"The direct impact measures the money that comes out of the institution and is spent on goods and services, along with what faculty and students spend," said Ron Uroda, the association's vice president for research. The study also looked at the indirect and induced benefits from the schools - the money spent by companies and their employees that do business with the institutions.

The study estimated Wilson's indirect and induced economic benefit at another $17.5 million per year.

"A college is a big consumer and a big supporter of the economic fabric of a community ... The better the college does, the better the community does," said David Sciamanna, executive director of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.

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