College towns have economic cushion

Theresa Kuhlmann

A college’s influence does not stop at the edge of its campus. It expands throughout the community.

The Greater Peoria Area is dotted with many institutions of higher education. Bradley University, Illinois Central College, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Robert Morris College and Midstate College all offer curriculum for higher learning.

But, it is the students who flock to the Bradley University campus and live in the university’s housing that create the biggest influx in the local economy starting at the end of August.

From student spending to employment opportunities, these institutions are each a crucial part of Peoria’s economy.

Jim McConoughey, CEO of Economic Development Council of Central Illinois, said college enrollment brings many sales for different businesses and helps the economy in the Peoria area.

“For every student at Bradley University, there are two direct jobs for the community,” he said.

An additional 1.7 indirect jobs result in employees investing back into the economy.

The additional income is created by these jobs that would, in turn, lead to an increase in local retail and restaurant spending, which boosts sales tax revenue for the city.

“That has a real positive impact on retail sales. And sales taxes directly support municipal services,” McConoughey said.

With enrollment currently at about 3,000, roughly 12,000 jobs input the local economy from BU alone.

For more on this story see the 7/16/08 issue of the Peoria Times-Observer.