Opinion Columns & Blogs

August 18, 2014

Darcy Zabel and Noreen M. Carrocci: Friends, Newman boost the local economy

Wichita taxpayers will be interested to know that two private universities in Wichita are making a substantial economic impact on the local economy.

Private education is a bargain for Kansas taxpayers. This was highlighted well in a commentary by Matt Lindsey, president of the Kansas Independent College Association (“Private colleges help fuel economic growth,” July 29 Opinion).

Wichita taxpayers will be interested to know that two private universities in Wichita are making a substantial economic impact on the local economy, according to the recent economic impact study commissioned by KICA. The study, conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International, calculated the estimated collective impact on the economy of the 18 Kansas independent, degree-granting member colleges and universities for fiscal year 2012-13.

Collectively, Newman University and Friends University generate $293.6 million in income for the Wichita metro service area, nearly 30 percent of the $981 million total of all KICA institutions. The net impact of payroll and expenses that result in added regional income for the metro area by both institutions is about $44.7 million.

Together, Friends and Newman universities provide $84.5 million in added tax revenue across the state from our students’ higher lifetime incomes and the increased output of businesses.

Add the fact that only 1 percent of state funding for higher education goes to private universities and the deal sweetens rapidly.

Quite simply, we are efficient economic engines for our region. And unlike at many public universities, our students can readily graduate in four years. Some of this can be attributed to our collaborative effort to help students get the classes they need regardless of where they are enrolled – yes, Friends students are on Newman’s campus and vice versa.

The communities of Newman and Friends have been longtime partners in higher education. We pride ourselves on operating efficient and effective universities that provide top-notch graduates to our regional workforce or to some of the country’s top graduate programs for research and extended learning. With Friends to the north and Newman to the south, barely more than a stone’s throw from each other, we make the Kellogg Avenue corridor a hot spot for enjoying the arts, exploring topics and divergent concepts, and delivering undergraduate and graduate education that benefits our community.

According to the EMSI study, the accumulated contribution of former students at both universities now employed in the regional workforce amounted to more than $241 million in added income to the state’s economy during the analysis year. The study also found that 62 percent of KICA graduates stay in Kansas to continue working, which is greatly beneficial. EMSI noted in the study that “their enhanced skills and abilities bolster the output of state employers, leading to higher income and a more robust economy.”

Collectively, Friends and Newman graduates provide a present value of $915.6 million in added state income over the course of the students’ working lives. This equates to an equivalents measure (the number of average-wage jobs that a given amount of income can potentially support) of 6,193 jobs.

Though large state institutions typically garner more attention, and the ways in which public institutions serve the common good are perhaps more obvious, Newman University, Friends University and our peer KICA institutions are just as committed to the people of Kansas and the future of our state.

Together, here in Wichita, Friends and Newman are partners in education, partners in the economic success of Wichita, and partners in our students’ future.

Darcy Zabel is interim president of Friends University. Noreen M. Carrocci is president of Newman University.

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