In 2009, I wrote my first ever blog post for Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group on Mighty Edu: higher ed’s positive impacts on economies, communities, and people. I wrote this post as our nation descended in its second greatest economic depression. Living through that period reinforced my Might Edu mantra as I watched higher ed’s value and importance increase during this period. Pivotal to emerging from the depression, higher education helped, first, stabilize and, second, grow local economies by re-tooling America’s workforce with advanced degrees and certificates, and research and commercialization. It’s impact on economies continues to grow.
Recently, SOCHE released its report on the Economic and Fiscal Impacts of its member colleges and universities in southwest Ohio. The collective impact for fiscal year 2016 amounted to over $7 billion, including $3.8 billion in new monies brought to the region from tuition, sponsored research, and alumni giving.
This sustained level of spending and revenue generation ripples through our region, driving the success of other sectors that directly and indirectly support higher education through specific goods and services. The wage and tax revenue contributes amounts that help sustain local government services, and the job creation is over 70,000 making higher education once of the largest employment sectors.
More importantly, as region’s become more competitive for talent, last year, SOCHE member colleges and universities awarded over 31,000 students with degrees and certificates, providing an ample supply of talent for the workforce.
Even better news is that this data reflects only the southwest region of the state. Ohio is rich in higher education and the combined and cumulative impact of its over 80 colleges and universities, I would wager, more than quadruples SOCHE’s impact findings.
Now, imagine if Ohio invested in higher education and increased the education levels of its population to the point where, instead of less than 20 percent of people older than 25 have only a high school diploma, 80 percent had college degrees. What if?