Wilder study finds century college has $337 million impact on region’s economy

WHITE BEAR LAKE — Century College has an annual estimated economic impact of $337 million on the region’s economy, according to a study released Tuesday by the school.

Based on the Twin Cities metro economy of $190.7 billion, this means for every $1,000 produced in the metro area, $18 are directly or indirectly related to Century. The direct impact of the college in 2011 was $198 million, while the indirect impact on other industries was $139 million.

Similarly, during 2011 the college and its students generated an estimated 3,272 jobs in the Twin Cities. These jobs included an estimated 2,298 direct jobs, and 974 additional indirect jobs created by vendors, contractors and businesses supplying inputs to the college and its students.

The study was conducted by Wilder Research, a nationally recognized source of data used by state and local planners, policy makers and service providers.
The Wilder analysis, prepared for the Minnesota State Colleges and universities system, said Century impacts the local economy in three ways:

  • Direct spending by the college itself, including money spent for construction projects, wages and salaries, contracted services, supplies and repairs;
  • Spending by students, many of whom are residents of the area, and
  • Labor market impact, including the employment of local residents, job creation as a result of college and student spending, students working part-time while going to school and students staying in the local area after completing their studies.

Wilder research scientist Jose Diaz said through its daily activities, Century generates economic value for the Twin Cities in several ways. First, spending by the college and its students directly impacts personal income, employment and tax revenues of the state. Second, these expenditures generate an indirect effect — all Century activities induce other organizations and businesses to spend more, creating what is known as a “multiplier effect.”

Data used in the analysis includes Century operational expenditures, salaries and benefits from its 2011 financial statements; capital expenditures from the state’s bond projects that financed investments for Century from 2010 to 2012, and estimates of Century students’ spending based on a survey of 290 students and their spending patterns for a given year.

“This economic impact research provides a statistically valid measurement of the significance of an organization’s activities on the regional economy,” Diaz said. “Policy makers and community leaders can use the data to inform their decisions. Century clearly has a significant impact on the regional economy.”

The Wilder study also concluded that the college generates approximately $19 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.

The study further estimates the value of the increase in productivity that the 1,098 associate degrees awarded by Century in 2011 will yield throughout the careers of the graduates. Assuming a 40-year work life, the education received by 2011 graduates will yield additional state income of $103 million of future value in the state. This figure reflects the additional earnings of graduates as a result of their training. Students are able to earn more as they better fit the needs of businesses and government.

“Century makes a long-term contribution to the economy with every graduating class, creating value for the individual as well as the community,” said school president Dr. Ron Anderson. “The Wilder study shows that the health of our regional economy is tied to Century in significant ways that can be measured.”

On a statewide level, the Wilder study shows the seven state universities and 24 community and technical colleges that are part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system:

  • Generate an annual economic impact of $8.3 billion (direct impact of $5 billion and indirect impact in other industries of $3.3 billion). Represent a return of $13.53 for each $1 of state appropriation.
  • Generate an estimated 80,856 jobs in the state (56,876 direct jobs and 23,979 additional indirect jobs created by vendors, contractors and businesses supplying inputs to our colleges and universities and their students).
  • Generate approximately $490 million in tax revenues for Minnesota state and local governments.

In addition to this impact, the enhanced productivity of MnSCU graduates across the state is equivalent to $4.7 billion of future value created each year.