Lake County Colleges are Major Economic Drivers

Building Indiana Business

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Colleges in Lake County, IN are well known for creating big opportunities that go far beyond the positive outcomes of their students. They are major economic drivers that support thousands of regional jobs and help attract investment from all kinds of unique entities.

Data released in three separate economic impact studies provides insights into the wide-reaching effects that three of Lake County’s academic institutions create each year. Each of the studies were conducted by Emsi, a labor market and economic analytics firm.

Altogether, the data shows these three schools are very good for business in the Northwest Indiana (NWI) region, producing a combined economic impact greater than $1.13 billion.

Purdue University Northwest – $746M

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) adds $745.9 million in total income to NWI, supporting 10,494 jobs across Lake, Porter, and La Porte counties, according to Emsi’s economic impact study. This adds up to about 2% of the gross regional product (GRP).

The activities of PNW and its students support one out of every 36 jobs in NWI. This includes the accomplishments of students and alumni, research conducted, start-ups launched, and visitors welcomed as a result of PNW’s activities.

If one were to expand the radius of this study across Indiana’s borders to also include Cook and Will counties in Illinois and Berrien County in Michigan, the impact gets even bigger. With those areas included, the university adds $1.4 billion in total income and supports 14,876 jobs.

The study also found:

  • The impact of PNW’s alumni – including earnings, and the ripple effects of living and working – added $591.5 million in regional income, supporting 8,248 jobs.
  • Start-up companies supported by PNW added $11 million in income.
  • Spending by PNW students generated $7.9 million in added income, which supported 178 jobs.
  • The off-campus expenditures of out-of-region visitors generated a net impact of $124,200.

Indiana University Northwest – $261M

Indiana University Northwest (IUN) creates a $264.1 million economic impact and supports 4,138 jobs each year in NWI each year.

According to Emsi’s study, IUN’s economic engagement activities “align educational programs with the workforce needs of the region, and further benefits the area by educating citizens, enriching arts and culture, enhancing policymaking, developing sustainable infrastructure, and promoting economic growth.”

Other facts on IUN’s impact:

  • The impact of the increased earnings of IUN alumni and the businesses they work for is equal to an economic boost similar to hosting the World Series 37 times.
  • For every $1 students invest in their education at IU Northwest, they receive $3.90 in higher future earnings, taxpayers gain $1.30 in tax revenue, and society gains $8.50.

Ivy Tech Lake County – $127.6M

Emsi’s study revealed that Ivy Tech Community College’s Lake County campus creates a $127.6 million economic impact and supports the equivalent of 401 jobs.

The study found that students invested $502.8 million in time and money that will generate a cumulative return of $2.2 billion in higher future earnings over their working careers. In fact, students will see an average annual return on investment of about 18.3%, which is much higher than many other traditional forms of investment.

Additional findings included:

  • Alumni have the greatest impact on the state because of higher earnings and increased productivity. During the study period, alumni generated $106 million in added income.
  • In Lake County, Ivy Tech employs 360 full-time and part-time employees with a total operations spending of $18.7 million.

Layers of Positives

Among the academic institutions in Lake County, economic positives grow across multiple layers. On the surface, the education that graduates bring with them into their future careers helps our economy remain competitive and growing. But going deeper than that, there’s so much more activity that colleges generate. Wages, investments, research advancements, and countless other innovations amount to pure business opportunity for Northwest Indiana and beyond.

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