Report says students add to local economy

The facts and figures are in. The results: Liberty University contributes to Lynchburg and Region 2000 in six ways — through growth, contributions to the local economy, employment, local fiscal contributions, state fiscal contributions and its recreations, impacting Lynchburg’s quality of life.

Region 2000 consists of the 2,000 square miles surrounding Lynchburg, including Bedford, Campbell, Appomattox and Amherst counties. Magnum Economic Consulting, LLC, a Richmond-based organization that specializes in economic and quantitative research, produced its findings in a lengthy report last week.

“What impressed and surprised me most about the study was the number of volunteer hours the Liberty community contributes to the city, over 600,000 hours each year,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said. “This is far more than required or even expected!”

It found that Liberty’s residential and online enrollment is growing at rapid rates, faster than all other four-year private and public universities in Virginia.

From 1992 to 2009, fall enrollment increased 452 percent, from 8,500 to 46,949 students, according to the Magnum report.

Enrollment is not the only area of growth. Liberty University is the second largest employer in region 2000 with Centra Health coming in first, according to President and CEO of Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce Rex Hammond.

Liberty is also one of the fastest growing employers, with employment increasing 351 percent or 3,023 jobs between 2001 and 2010, according to the Magnum report.

The report showed that Liberty University also impacted the local economy. In 2009, Liberty students contributed $217 million in direct spending to Region 2000, according to the Magnum report. As a result, this amount led to $133 million net spending that stayed in the regional economy.

“Liberty University is an economic asset to this community,” Delegate Scott Garrett said. “There are stylistic elements people disagree with, but I’ve yet to hear anyone argue that Liberty University is not a significant and major economic player in our community.”

With unemployment rates skyrocketing across the country, Liberty employed 5,179 individuals with Region 2000, with most of those jobs located in the city of Lynchburg, according to the report.

Lynchburg’s total employment is a little less than 53,000 individuals. One out of 10 jobs were “either directly or indirectly attributable to Liberty University,” the Magnum report revealed.

Liberty also prepared students to enter the workforce in the Lynchburg area, according to Hammond.

“The plight of any college community is, you can’t create enough jobs to retain all the college graduates,” Hammond said. “We have an economy that’s sufficiently vibrant that you see lots of Liberty students and local college graduates entering the workforce here.”

Employees and students contributed to the local economy via taxes, according to the report. Approximately 9 percent of the restaurant and food tax revenue, 8 percent of the city’s total real property tax revenue and 2 percent of the sales tax revenue came from Liberty University staff and students, according to the report.

“Focusing exclusively on the city of Lynchburg, where Liberty’s campus is physically located, the university generated approximately $5.4 million in tax revenue for the city,” according to the Magnum report.

The report revealed that Liberty also contributed 268 million dollars directly to the state of Virginia. For every $1 of Liberty’s net spending, $1.57 in overall economic activity was generated across the state, according to the Magnum report. This created 5,563 jobs in Virginia and $41 million in “federal, state and local tax revenue.”

Through these contributions, Liberty impacted the local region in positive ways, the Magnum report found.

“In sum, Liberty University is a rapidly growing institution, that has a significant economic and fiscal impact on Region 2000 and the state of Virginia as a whole, and plays a very active and positive leadership role within its community,” according to the Magnum report

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