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Chancellor tells business group how college strengthens area economy

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USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson introduced the "four thousand in four years" concept to the local area last year. The goal is to have four thousand students on the campus in four years.

During the last Business Expansion and Retention meeting held on March 20, he introduced another concept with four in it, a chart called "four quadrant thinking."

"The economic impact of the college on the area can be thought of in various ways," said Peterson in his address to about 30 people at the meeting. "What we need to do is some four quadrant thinking."

He pointed out that it is hard to exactly assess the impact the colleges existence has on the area but the fact it is here, based on local figures and some national studies shows it does a lot for the local economy.

Peterson was referring to a chart on a handout he distributed to the audience. The chart was broken down into a square with four quadrants in it. Each of those quadrants describe part of the economy as related to what the college does.

The first quadrant was public economics. The college brings in government funds in various ways to the community including through its payroll and student spending. New enterprise in the area is also derived from this. The college also supports new enterprise through various channels including training and advisement.

"The college has 110 employees in the local area," said Peterson. "Breaking that down we have 50 faculty and 60 other staff that work on campus. The average salary for these employees is about $60,000 per year. They also have benefits that add up to about 47 percent of their wages."

That means the college is on average not only one of the biggest employers in the area, but also one of the highest paying. This affects personal income, another section of the quadrant.

Peterson pointed out too that student spending is important in the area, and the majority of it is not from students who are residents of the two county area.

"Last fall we had 682 freshman enroll at the school," he said. "Of that 418 were not from this area. About 250 of them were from the Salt Lake metropolitan area."

The college gets a lot of money from grants and awards too. Peterson said the money from federal grants, for instance, totals over $2.5 million dollars per year.

The college's total budget for this year is about $21 million with $4 million of that going to the Blanding campus.

"About 78 percent of that budget goes to salaries," said Peterson.

The second quadrant is personal income. People with higher education make more money than those just with a high school diploma. National studies show that at mid-career high school graduates are expected to earn about $31,200 per year while those with an associates degree will earn about $41,800. Those with bachelors degrees will earn on average $58,100 at the mid-point of their work life while those with masters degrees will be earning $73,600.

Castle Country has a high number of associate degrees in relation to average, but the number of bachelors degrees is lower than average. This shows a direct relationship to the fact that for years the college was a junior college with bachelor degrees offered through the USU extension program or by going to a four years school. Now with its association with USU the move is more for students to get associates and then move on locally to be able to get a bachelors degree.

There are also social aspects of having the college in the area, which are related to the other quadrants in Peterson's chart.

National studies show that those that are better educated generally vote in elections more often and are more likely to be involved in local government and events. Studies also show that where colleges exist, providing for a higher education, crime levels are lower.

Peterson also pointed out that with the new classroom instructional building being constructed on campus beginning this year that a project like that not only adds to the instructional experience the students will have at the college but that its construction will add to the local ecomony.

"I just want to say that (USU President ) Stan Albrecht and (State Senator) David Hinkins were key to getting this building program though the legislature," said Peterson. "There was a lot of good work by many folks to get it done."

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