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Report shows Liberty University continues to make strong, positive impact on local and state economies

Liberty University’s constant growth in local and statewide economic influence is reflected in a recent report by Mangum Economics, LLC, that outlines the university’s contribution to the Lynchburg MSA’s (Metropolitan Statistical Area) and Commonwealth of Virginia’s workforce, tax revenue, and other economic activities.

The report is conducted every two years; this year’s report shares statistics from the 2021-22 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 130,594, making it the largest institution of higher education in Virginia and one of the largest in the country. The university and its auxiliary enterprises were Lynchburg’s largest employer, providing jobs for 8,413 individuals in the MSA, 9,166 in Virginia, and 12,663 worldwide.

Liberty helps to provide stability for the Lynchburg MSA total nonfarm employment. Between February 2018 and February 2023, total nonfarm employment increased by 2 percent in the Lynchburg MSA. Liberty’s employment numbers helped to provide stability to the MSA especially during the volatile period in which restrictions were imposed on economic activity in response to the COVID-19 virus.

Spending in the Lynchburg MSA by the university, its associated enterprises, students, and visitors totaled $534.2 million, in turn accounting for generating $966.9 million in overall economic activity in the Lynchburg MSA. That means that every $1 of Liberty’s net local spending generated $1.81 within the broader regional economy.

The university itself, along with its associated enterprises, employees, students, and visitors, contributed approximately $23.3 million in tax revenue to the Lynchburg MSA in 2021-22.

Liberty also continues to make major economic and fiscal contributions beyond its immediate area. On the state level, in 2021-22, Liberty, along with its associated enterprises, students, and visitors were responsible for contributing $613.2 million in direct spending. Mangum’s analysis indicates that the spending was responsible for generating almost $1.1 billion in economic activity, meaning that every $1 of LU’s state spending generated $1.84 in overall economic activity within the state.

Click image to view full report.

Additionally, the spending was responsible for supporting a total of 11,380 jobs in the state, creating $500.5 million in labor income and generating $162.5 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

Beyond the university’s economic and fiscal impact, its major contributions to the workforce were also highlighted in the report. Mangum Economics estimated the economic value of the enhanced labor productivity, or increased human capital, brought into the Virginia workforce by Liberty’s graduates at $74.3 million for the 2021-22 school year.

Falling in line with Liberty’s longstanding dedication to serving the community, students at LU provided the Greater Lynchburg community with 466,303 hours of volunteer service, which translates to more than $5.1 million worth of volunteer service hours to the Lynchburg MSA.

The university has also continued its regional investments in economic revitalization. After a major investment in renovations and additions at River Ridge Mall since its acquisition in 2017, the mall now counts among its newer anchor tenants nationally recognized names such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Goods, and Ulta Beauty.

Liberty plays a major part in attracting tourists to the Lynchburg MSA. In fiscal year 2022, out-of-town visitors attending campus events and meeting with LU employees and students generated approximately 133,339 hotel room nights in the MSA. In turn, the rooms were associated with approximately $14.9 million in hotel revenue within the area.

“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 concluded.

According to Liberty University President Dondi E. Costin, “This study confirms that Liberty University continues to be a major economic driver across our region. Even beyond the University’s billion-dollar economic impact, our employees and students make a more dramatic social impact on the community by loving their neighbors as themselves, in keeping with Jesus’ command. Every year we add thousands of Champions for Christ to the workforce, ensuring the Lynchburg MSA has the talent our community needs to realize its full potential.”

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