Three Ohio colleges study college effects on Ohio

Alaina Buzas and Alaina Buzas

For over twenty years, Ohio has remained a few steps behind the rest of the country economically speaking. But with the help of the state’s three major research universities, an economic heyday may be in the near future.

Colleges and universities not only educate tomorrow’s workforce, they also keep today’s employed, according to a recently released report by The University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, and Case Western Reserve University. The three schools, self-titled the “three corridor,” joined together in June 2004 to study the economic impact of higher education in Ohio.

“We see investment in higher education as a key to the state’s economic vitality,” said Shelly Hoffman, spokesperson for OSU.

The 107-page report, titled “The Future Starts Here: The Role of the Research Universities in Ohio’s Economy,” explains that colleges and universities not only educate, they also employ a large portion of the state’s work force. The report states that in 2004, public and private colleges and universities employed roughly 136,700 people, a larger number than those employed in Ohio by the auto industry.

The study also says that even outside of education and employing Ohio residents, colleges and universities play a role in their respective communities, especially in areas concerning preschool through grade 12 education and urban revitalization.

Bowling Green State University released their own report evaluating the economic impact the school has on Ohio’s economy. The report, titled “Measuring Bowling Green State University’s Impact on Ohio’s Economy,” was released in Oct. 2004 by the University’s Center for Research Development. Although both studies concentrated on employment and spending as related to colleges and universities, the study conducted by BGSU focused primarily on the impact of rural universities.

Michael C. Carroll, of the Department of Economics, stated in the report summary that these rural universities not only fuel the local economy, they “provide the region’s social and cultural inspiration.”

The “three corridor” study on the effect of research universities on the economy was initiated between the three schools as a result of a report of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and The Economy. The presidents of UC, OSU, and Case met to discuss different ways they could effectively work together to asses their impact, as a group, on Ohio’s economy. Appleseed Inc., a New York based firm specializing in economic and social research and analysis, conducted the study.

According to John Hatchel, assistant vice president for marketing and communication at Case, the “three corridor” has hopes that the release of the report will provide evidence to investors, such as elected officials and business and community leaders, that the research universities involved in the study are “good stewards of the investments made in them,” encouraging those investors to continue supporting the universities.

“Developing these partnerships and encouraging the launch of small high-tech businesses open wonderful possibilities for economic achievement,” said Karen A. Holbrook, President of OSU.