November 18, 2020 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University’s continual growth in local and statewide economic influence was reflected in a recent report by Mangum Economics, LLC, which outlined the university’s contribution to the Lynchburg MSA’s (Metropolitan Statistical Area) and Commonwealth of Virginia’s workforce, tax revenue, and other economic activity.
The report is conducted every two years, with the newest report sharing statistics produced from the 2018-19 academic year. Mangum Economics specializes in “producing objective economic, quantitative, and qualitative analysis in support of strategic decision making.”
Liberty’s unduplicated annual headcount of students (residential and online) was 111,084, which makes it the largest institution of higher education in Virginia and the fifth largest in the country. The university and its auxiliary enterprises were also recognized as Lynchburg’s largest employer with 7,987 individuals in the Lynchburg MSA, 8,665 in Virginia, and 11,336 worldwide.
Spending in the Lynchburg MSA by the university and its associated enterprises, students, and visitors totaled $562.3 million, which then accounted for $984.7 million in overall economic activity in the Lynchburg MSA. Liberty’s regional spending supported 12,580 jobs within the Lynchburg MSA and generated $428.3 million in labor income, and, given the City of Lynchburg’s total employment of 52,414 people, Liberty can be attributed as either directly or indirectly employing approximately one out of every four Lynchburg laborers.
The university itself and its associated enterprises, employees, students, and visitors contributed approximately $16.5 million in local tax revenue to the Lynchburg MSA, with approximately $11 million, directly and indirectly, made in Lynchburg itself.
On the state scale, Liberty and its associated enterprises, students, and visitors were responsible for contributing $659.2 million in direct spending, which in turn generated over $1.3 billion in economic activity, supported 13,831 jobs in Virginia, created $532.9 million in labor income, and ultimately generated $90.2 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.
The report estimates that the economic value of the enhanced labor productivity, or increased human capital, that Liberty University’s 2018-19 graduates carried with them into Virginia’s workforce was approximately $48.2 million. It specifically recognized these graduates as having helped meet the region’s demand for professionals in healthcare, education, business, engineering, software development, and many other industries.
In line with Liberty’s longstanding dedication to serving the community, students and employees of the university provided more than $3.5 million in volunteer service hours to the Lynchburg MSA.
In 2017, Liberty University acquired River Ridge Mall, the Lynchburg MSA’s only mall, and set to work restoring the building that had deteriorated to the point of possible closing. In the two years that followed, Liberty’s efforts went toward remodeling the center court and creating space for new big-box retailers and an aquarium.
The report also said that on-campus facilities like the LaHaye Ice Center, the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Liberty Mountain Skate Park, and the Tower Theater have “enhanced the quality of life within the Lynchburg MSA.”
“In sum, Liberty University is a rapidly growing institution that has a significant economic and fiscal impact on the Lynchburg MSA and the state of Virginia as a whole and plays a very active and positive leadership role within its community and the state,” the report said.
According to Liberty University Interim President Jerry Prevo, “This report confirms that Liberty University continues to be a major economic contributor to the Lynchburg MSA and the state of Virginia. In addition to the economic and fiscal impact, Liberty University’s operations, students, and employees make a significant contribution to the community through community service, generating higher levels of tourism, and ensuring the Lynchburg MSA is developing the workforce that it will need to be successful in the future.”