Lees-McRae College just released an Economic Impact Study outlining the economic impact the College has on Banner Elk, Avery County and Western North Carolina communities. The recent study found that during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Lees-McRae College contributed $48 million to the area.
“We have always known that Lees-McRae is a cultural and educational anchor in the region, and this study confirms that we are a significant economic driver as well. With an annual total economic impact of nearly $50 million, Lees-McRae and our alumni form an essential part of the fabric of life in Western North Carolina,” said President David W. Bushman. “The impact of our commitment to educating young people reaches well beyond just those who get a diploma from Lees-McRae.”
In 2007, the Town of Banner Elk gained a net benefit of $50,000 from the presence of Lees-McRae College. Lees-McRae produced 30.3% of the Town’s revenues, and only accounted for 28.6% of expenditures.
Avery County’s economy also benefited from the presence of Lees-McRae in 2007. The College contributed $15.4 million to the County’s economy in 2007. One out of every $15 spent in Avery County was a result of the College’s presence.
Taking into account the cumulative contributions of Lees-McRae College, the county government gained a net benefit of $1.4 million from the presence of the College. The College accounted for 7.7% of revenue in the county and only 2.9% of the expenditures, a 4.8% net benefit.
The study found that Lees-McRae College and its alumni also have a significant impact on the economy of Western North Carolina. Contributions of $48 million in the 2007-2008 fiscal year to the region included $37.5 million as a result of the College, its employees, students, and visitors; $5.8 million in increased earnings of alumni; and $3.2 million as a result of social benefits due to positive lifestyle choices.
Outside of monetary contributions, Lees-McRae College also provided numerous employment opportunities in the area. During the 2007-2008 fiscal year, the College and its subcontractors employed 201 full-time people and were responsible for creating 525 other new jobs in Western North Carolina.
In essence, Lees-McRae College provides numerous advantages for Banner Elk, Avery County and Western North Carolina. The College offers education for area residents whose lifestyles and earning capacities are measurably enhanced by its programs. The College’s presence also generates many economic opportunities for local government and businesses.
The College attracts students and visitors from elsewhere and therefore brings in substantial dollars from outside Western North Carolina. The town and region report net revenues from the College’s presence. These economic advantages, coupled with the additional cultural benefits the College offers, attest to the significant contribution of Lees-McRae College to Banner Elk and Western North Carolina.