The Packet
Higher Education study details boon to Mercer County

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 2:02 PM EST


   A new report on the economic impact of higher education in Mercer County has found that the five colleges and universities in the county directly generate more than $820 million in annual wages and create almost as many jobs as the county’s entire manufacturing sector.

   Mercer County Community College, Princeton University, Rider University, The College of New Jersey, and Thomas Edison State College contributed over $1.2 billion in direct spending to the state’s economy during fiscal year 2005, according to the report. Nearly $2 billion in total spending was generated in the state as a result of those initial institutional expenditures, the report states.

   The report was commissioned by the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce and the County of Mercer, and conducted by The Roper Group, in association with A. Ilan Consulting, with assistance by T. J Spitznas & Associates. It was funded by the five universities.

   As a group, the five schools rank as one of Mercer’s leading employers, according to the report, accounting for 5.7 percent of all non-governmental jobs in the county. In fiscal year 2005, the education institutions generated almost 13,000 jobs — more than 7,700 of them in Mercer County. Total wages and fees generated by the institutions in fiscal year 2005 was $828 million.

   ”This study shows, for the first time, the magnitude of the economic impact these institutions have in Mercer County,” stated Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes in a news release announcing the findings of the study.

   ”We have always known being home to a high concentration of colleges and universities has made us rich in history and reputation. Now, we can see how strongly these institutions improve our quality of life by providing jobs and tourism, and attracting new residents to Mercer County” stated Mr. Hughes.

   The report indicates that most of the institutions’ funding comes from tuition, private donations, and grants — not taxpayer money. The report states: “On average, only 6.5 cents of every dollar spent by the five institutions was provided by the State of New Jersey in Fiscal Year 2005...[However, for] each dollar in financial support by the state... the five Mercer institutions generated $24 in total spending (economic activity) and $10 in wages throughout the state’s economy.”

   For more information or a copy of the full report, contact Michele Siekerka, president and chief executive officer of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce at (609) 689-9960, ext. 13.