Southeastern has $564 million annual economic impact
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s economic impact on the state is more than $565 million annually, and the university’s impact supports more than 5,700 non-university jobs, according to a study commissioned by the University of Louisiana System.
Spending by the university’s more than 15,000 students accounted for an approximate $237 million impact, while faculty and staff spending amounted to a $99 million impact, the study showed. In addition, the study analyzed non-economic factors such as cultural, education and business-related outreach projects.
“This report on the economic and community impacts of Southeastern highlights our multi-faceted role in serving the people who live throughout our region,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain.
The study was initiated last year and developed by Applied Technology Research Corporation of Baton Rouge. The study relied on data provided by the eight universities that make up the system, and also included data collected from the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, and the Office of Group Benefits. The methodology used is considered consistent with that of other university impact studies conducted around the nation.
ULS President Randy Moffett said the state’s fiscal year 2007-08 investment of $438.7 million in University of Louisiana System schools yielded a $3.4 billion impact to the state’s economy through spending alone.
“Every dollar of state funding Louisiana invests in the University of Louisiana System generates an $8 return,” Moffett said.
The study examined each ULS university’s impact in four areas: spending, teaching, research and quality of life.
For Southeastern, spending includes a $42 million impact of university operating expenditures, $33 million from capital outlay and construction projects, $24 million from health insurance payments, $16.7 million from retiree spending, $101 million from visitor expenditures, $98.7 million from spending by faculty and staff, and $237 million from student expenditures.
According to the study, Southeastern’s spending created 5,748 non-university full-time jobs throughout Louisiana that support areas such as construction, healthcare, and food services. Those include 2,300 jobs related to student spending, 900 to faculty and staff spending, 600 to university operations, 1,000 jobs to visitor spending, and 150 jobs to retiree spending.
The study notes that six university construction projects between 2001 and 2008 yielded a $267.5 million impact and created more than 2,500 jobs. An eight-year average of construction at Southeastern revealed an average annual impact of $33.4 million with more than 300 non-university jobs tied each year to construction projects.
“All of the area banks are directly impacted by Southeastern as one of our major employers,” said Michael R. Sharp, president and CEO of First Guaranty Bank. “Many of Southeastern’s approximately 1,600 employees have accounts or loans with us. All of this has a ripple effect on the economy. The university’s partners reap the benefits of what we consider to be an outstanding academic institution.”
In the area of teaching, the study found that the 19,397 graduates who have earned degrees at Southeastern over the last 10 years have added about $1.1 billion to Louisiana’s economy during that period.
The university’s bachelor’s degree holders have generated $960 million, master’s degree holders almost $112 million, and associate’s degree holders $13 million. Southeastern produced 56,845 degrees over the last 50 years with 20,053 graduates between 1998 and 2007. Southeastern’s top graduate producing programs include education, health and related clinical sciences, engineering technicians, business administration and social services.
“We’re quite proud of Livingston Parish and its standing in the state as a leader in education,” said Jim Richardson, principal of Gray’s Creek Elementary School in Denham Springs, “and we’ve earned our reputation with a lot of ‘home grown’ kids who have come out of Southeastern. Student teachers from Southeastern have an understanding of what needs to be done in the classroom. They understand school performance, accountability, what is expected of them. That comes from good, solid preparation. And, of course, Southeastern has always been known for that.”
The study identified 32 research and service programs at Southeastern, including three in economic development, six in cultural development, four in environmental and natural sciences, and 19 in education, health and human services. An example is Southeastern’s Small Business Development Center that provides assistance for starting a business, expanding a business, bringing new products to market, and seeking to increase sales or increase profits.
“The university has a big impact on the quality of life in our region, especially relative to education and workforce development,” said Lacey Toledano, chief executive officer of the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce. “The Southeastern Small Business Development Center works closely with us, providing counseling in our offices and advising and assisting entrepreneurs with business plans throughout the entire area. The population on the north shore is going to continue to grow over the next 20 years, and Southeastern is crucial to our success in the world of business.”
The study also found that approximately 787,000 people attended events at Southeastern last year, including Fanfare, the university’s fall festival of the arts, humanities and social sciences, which alone attracted audiences of more than 130,000 last year. Of the people attending events, 67 percent were from off-campus, adding to the $101 million impact from visitor spending.
Southeastern also impacts quality of life through service, the study found, offering 13 service-learning courses and expanding programming through the Center for Faculty Excellence. Additionally, Southeastern faculty and staff volunteered 69,000 hours last year, and students contributed 254,000 hours to enhancing area communities.
As one of the area’s largest employers, Southeastern’s economic contributions are obviously very visible, Crain said.
“Beyond that,” he said, “are the fundamental contributions Southeastern makes to develop an educated citizenry, a workforce prepared for today’s knowledge-based economy, and numerous cultural, creative and other resources that contribute to our quality of life and the wellbeing of our region. No price tag can be placed on these contributions.”
A complete copy of the report will be available online at www.selu.edu/impactstudy.