West Virginia institutions bank on economic impact to save higher ed budget
- West Virginia's 21 public colleges and universities contributed more than $2.5 billion to the state's economy in 2014, a figure higher ed officials hope justifies continuing investment in college funding from state legislators.
- Commission officials say higher education helps to attract businesses and corporations to metropolitan and rural areas around the state, just one element of how schools give back nearly seven dollars for every one dollar spent on the schools.
- Colleges helped to create more than 22,000 jobs throughout the state, a major talking point for the upcoming fall election push.
College leaders have always made the case for system-wide economic impact on states, but rarely have these case been able to stem the tide of political will towards financial austerity. North Carolina's public institutions generated more than $27 billion in impact last year, and still faced significant cuts and dramatic tuition restructuring for several of its smaller institutions.
As the demographics change for the kinds of students who will be seeking college entry, leaders will have to go beyond outlining the number of jobs created, but detailing the kinds of jobs created that will help to spur long-term economic growth. Institutions will be charged with creating research and real estate development that bring partnering corporations in to be partners in innovation and stability.