Press Coverage for 2007 study

Raleigh’s Colleges Seen As Wake’s Big
Dollar Sign

Raleigh News & Observer, Sabine Vollmer (Staff Writer)

RALEIGH, NC — Raleigh’s five colleges and universities account for about one-fourth of all salary income in Wake County, according to a study by a consortium of Meredith College, N.C. State University, Peace College, St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University.

The group, the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges, commissioned the economic impact study to raise awareness among city, county and state officials in charge of some of the funding the schools receive.

“If you’ve been in a community for a long time, sometimes you get taken for granted,” said Jenny Spiker, CRC’s director. The schools used to focus mostly on students, faculty and on-campus affairs, Spiker said. The study is one of the steps they are taking to make themselves more known and speak out together, she said.

Colleges and universities nationwide are stepping up collaboration with surrounding communities and neighborhoods, Spiker said. “We’re not just here for the students; we’re here for the communities, too.” Michael Walden, an economist at NCSU, conducted the study. Some of the findings:

  • Of the estimated $5.5 billion that CRC members contributed to Wake County’s economy last year, about $4 billion came from alumni who live and work in the area. Walden said he was surprised by alumni’s spending. “I would have guessed a little lower.”
  • More than 61,400 alumni of the five schools remained in the area or came back after graduating and held jobs in Wake County last year.
  • CRC members spent $941.1 million on faculty and staff salaries last year. Construction on campus accounted for $50.6 million in spending, and athletic and cultural events for $26.6 million.
  • Students spent about $331.4 million in the local economy.
  • The five schools provided nearly 24,000 jobs for faculty, staff, students and contractors.
  • The combination of schools in Raleigh, including traditionally African-American and women’s colleges, is somewhat unique, Walden said. Only a few other areas in the United States have a similar variety of schools, such as Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas.

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Study: Higher Ed Boosts Wake Economy


Raleigh, NC — The five colleges and universities in Raleigh account for a quarter of all wage and salary income and a fifth of total employment in Wake County, according to a study released Monday.

Meredith College, North Carolina State University, Peace College, St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University contributed an estimated $5.5 billion to the Wake County economy last year, the study reported. The study looked at the combined effects of what the institutions spent for faculty and staff salaries and for campus operations and construction, as well as spending by students, alumni living in the area and attendees at athletic and cultural events.

“We have a unique combination of colleges and universities in Wake County with an economic impact that goes beyond that of faculty and student spending,” Laura Bingham, president of Peace College and president of the board of directors of Cooperating Raleigh Colleges, the group that represents the five schools, said in a statement.

The colleges and universities spent $941.1 million in 2007 on faculty and staff salaries. Another $182.1 million went toward operational expenses, from food service and maintenance to office supplies and equipment. Campus construction accounted for another $50.6 million, and athletic and cultural events for $26.6 million.

Many students also work while in school. An estimated 7,457 students held off-campus jobs during the year, the study reported. Bingham said Raleigh is the only community in the country with the combination of a large, state research university, two historically black colleges and universities and two women’s colleges. That combination of institutions has had long-lasting impact — both economic and cultural — on the Wake County area, she said.

“Perhaps the impact that is most often underestimated is the effect of the thousands of graduates of these institutions who come here for college and remain in the area as highly educated and contributing citizens,” Bingham said. The study estimated that alumni spending accounted for about $4 billion per year of the total economic impact. An estimated 61,441 alumni of the five campuses held jobs in Wake County in 2007.

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Raleigh’s five colleges and universities account for about one-fourth of all salary income in Wake County.

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