Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Economy prospers

Liberty helps businesses

Liberty University has a vast economic impact on the surrounding areas and continues to grow as the university gets larger, according to Dr. Barry Moore, vice president for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships at Liberty.

“As Liberty continues to grow, we will continue to put more money into the local tax coffers in so many ways,” Moore said. “All of this is going to make Greater Lynchburg a better place to be.”

Every two years, Moore said he meets with Richard Martin, vice president for Financial Research and Analysis, and Fletcher Mangum of Mangum Economic Consulting, LLC, to put together an analysis of the economic contribution Liberty makes to Lynchburg.

Moore said as Liberty moves toward its goal of 20,000 residential students, it continues to pump up the local economy in the city of Lynchburg.

According to the latest Mangum report from the end of 2012, most of the numbers in the report have grown by 10-20 percent in the last two years.

“Liberty University is a rapidly growing institution that has a significant economic and fiscal impact on … the state of Virginia as a whole,” the Mangum Report states.

The report shows that Liberty has a higher number of out-of-state students than the average of all other public and private colleges and universities in the state of Virginia.

According to Moore, much of the tourism has to do with the fact that the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre as well as the LaHaye Ice Center are both open for public use as well as sporting events.

“It’s not just Snowflex, or our paintball field, or our equestrian stables, or our tracks, or our trails that go through our properties. It’s all the people that come here to look into academics and student life,” Moore said.

The report states that people who come to visit students at Liberty spend an average of more than $200 per visit, and 78 percent of students had visitors from out-of-town.

Out-of-town visitors to Liberty accounted for more than 82,000 overnight stays at hotels, generating more than $6.5 million in revenue for Lynchburg hotels.

“If there wasn’t any Liberty … then most of the hotels you see in the greater Lynchburg area would not have been built or would have long since closed their doors,” Moore said.

After Centra Health, Liberty is also the biggest employer in the Lynchburg Metropolitan Area, according to a Lynchburg city financial report. Liberty accounts for approximately 1 out of every 7 jobs within the city of Lynchburg.

According to the Mangum Report, Liberty is providing 100 percent of the regional demand for graduates in 16 fields.

The Magnum Report stated that for every $1 spent by Liberty locally, $3.19 was created within the economy of the region.

Moore equated the economic impact of Liberty on Lynchburg with the University of Notre Dame on South Bend, Penn State on College Station and Virginia Tech on Blacksburg.

“Most of our money stays in the area,” Moore said. “… It’s kind of like the ocean that raises all boats when the tide comes in.”

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