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Economic and Community Impact

Economic and Community Impact

A report prepared for the University of Louisiana System by Applied Technology Research Corp. of Baton Rouge shows McNeese State University has a $335 million annual economic impact to Louisiana. McNeese employees contribute $55 million directly to the economy while McNeese retirees spend an additional $11 million. McNeese students spend $145 million in areas such as housing, food, entertainment, telecommunications and transportation, while visitors to McNeese events expend an additional $47 million. Overall there is an $8 return for every $1 the state invests in higher education.

An additional benefit to McNeese spending is the creation of 3,250 non-university jobs throughout Louisiana that support expenditures such as construction, healthcare and food services. Student spending at McNeese supports over 1,400 non-university jobs in restaurant, entertainment, and retail industries.

As demonstrated in the study, future economic development in the region is closely tied to the ability of McNeese to sustain and grow its programs and activities. "Everyone in Southwest Louisiana is connected to, or touched by McNeese in one way or another," McNeese President Robert Hebert said. "McNeese is one of the largest employers in the five-parish area, and nearly 70 percent of the public four-year college degrees earned by residents of Southwest Louisiana come from McNeese. Our employees and students live in cities and communities throughout Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes," Hebert added.

According to statistics compiled for the economic and community impact study, approximately one-third of the engineers working in the local petrochemical industry are McNeese graduates. Nearly 80 percent of all nurses working in Lake Charles and the surrounding communities are McNeese graduates. School districts in the five-parish area rank among the state's top 10 districts in high school graduation rates and more than 70 percent of the educators in the five-parish area earned a degree from McNeese.

"For the past 70 years, Southwest Louisiana has relied on McNeese to provide an educated and well-prepared workforce, to provide employment opportunities, to host cultural and competitive athletic events and to purchase local goods and services," Hebert said. "McNeese is a major force in growing the economy and improving the quality of life in Southwest Louisiana." Over the last 10 years, close to 13,000 students have graduated from McNeese and added $640 million to Louisiana's economy.

"Before Hurricane Rita we had 14 consecutive enrollment increases and a record enrollment in September, 2005 that was just eight students short of topping 9,000," Candace Townsend, director of public information and communications said. "When we resumed classes in October, 2005 over 700 students had withdrawn." Enrollment at McNeese is gradually climbing back to pre-Rita levels.

Hurricane Rita caused significant damage to University facilities. The $30 million expended for hurricane repairs had a positive impact to the local economy. "Some buildings are still in FEMA mitigation processes and have yet to be repaired," Townsend said. Additional local economic impact will come from several capital outlay projects that are currently in planning or construction phase including the Shearman Fine Arts building addition.

"The economic impact study illustrates the importance of McNeese State University in dollar figures," Hebert said. "What cannot be calculated is the enhancement to the quality of life, as well as the invaluable contributions that our employees, students, alumni and retirees make to our communities through their civic and volunteer activities."