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Area private colleges helped economy

Private colleges contributed more than $1.3 billion to the Western New York economy in 2009, according to the latest figures released by a statewide association.

That's up 8 percent from 2007.

The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, a lobbying group for 113 private colleges and universities statewide, uses the figures to show how important the private higher-education sector is to the New York State economy.

"Our whole perspective of higher education has changed in the past 20 years," said economist Kent Gardner. "It plays a much more fundamental role in the economy. It's particularly true in New York State."

Gardner's firm, the Center for Governmental Research, is contracted by the association to analyze the economic impact of the state's private colleges and universities, using 2009 figures provided to the federal government by the schools.

Locally, the $1.3 billion comes from 11 area institutions: Alfred University, Canisius College, Daemen College, D'Youville College, Hilbert College, Houghton College, Medaille College, Niagara University, St. Bonaventure University, Trocaire College and Villa Maria College.

Those 11 schools -- which enrolled 25,906 students and conferred more than 7,700 undergraduate and graduate degrees in 2009 -- directly employed 5,600 workers, and indirectly another 6,600, according to the analysis. Institutional payrolls handed out $216 million.

Meanwhile, institutional spending on instruction, research, construction and ancillary services topped $1 billion, while spending by students was $102 million.

Statewide, the economic impact from private colleges and universities was $54.3 billion in 2009, an increase of 14 percent from 2007, despite a lagging state economy, the report showed. Two of the top ten private employers in the state are Cornell University and the University of Rochester.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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