Placing a value on an institution of higher learning

Conservative estimate is $61M for PC in the greater Clinton community
Photo - Scholarly research at Presbyterian College. The Cornelson Center at PC was the hub Thursday morning for poster presentations related to the Honors Day Symposium. Two posters dealt with issues related to the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site near Clinton, and panel discussions ranged from economics and taxes, to conspiracy theories and the CHAMPS program. Arts exhibits, music recitals and an Honors Convocation also were held during this event.

A $61 Million “Value”: Presbyterian College makes dramatic impact on the local economy


Crunching the numbers for her home county and her college, PC senior Sela Vaughan can demonstrate a $61 million annual financial impact on the economy of Laurens County by Presbyterian College.

It’s been 10 years since a similar, scholarly study was done, and that study demonstrated a $35 million impact from the college to the county’s economy. The precise figure for the current financial impact is $61,234,084.

The financial impact is based on a student enrollment of 1,063 (undergraduate and the 281 pharmacy students) and 312 employees. Vaughan said in 2017, construction on campus was a major driver in PC’s impact, and the “multipliers” that rippled through the Clinton community.

Vaughan’s numbers were conservative in one area. Fans traveling to a football game generally spend $95 in local communities (two people traveling, nationwide statistics), but this financial impact analysis looking at PC football projected $75 per game spending.

“A future study could look at all athletics, as well as arts and music,” Vaughan said.

Giving “an incentive” for more people within the PC community to respond to surveys about their spending also could increase participation, and grow PC’s financial impact numbers, Vaughan said.

The study estimates that football generates $268,888.13 a year in travel-into-Clinton-to-see-games financial impact, and another $72,375 a year is generated by visitors traveling into Clinton for admissions activities. Construction on campus spiked the local economy as PC spent $11.39 million on extensive Neville Hall renovations.

By far, the greatest financial impact of Presbyterian College on the Laurens County economy comes from employment, its direct effect is listed:

-- Employment, 462.8;

-- Labor Income, $26,516,108;

-- Value Added, $30,018,753;

-- Output, $45,554,567.

The rest of the financial impact comes from Indirect Effect (inter-industry spending), Induced Effect (household spending), Internship Value and Volunteerism Value.

Interns and volunteers cannot be factored in the same was employees are because this labor does not have a “multiplier” effect.

Still, based on nationwide, hourly wage figures, the internships generated by PC are “worth” $100,999.58, and the volunteer hours generated by those associated with the college are “worth” $697,014.33, every year to Clinton and the greater Laurens County community.

The study also examined student spending in the community; and spending by family and people visiting college staff living in Clinton, and those visiting students during their nine months on campus.

Of the faculty and staff who responded to surveys for this study, 91.78% said their spouse does not work for PC, and 76.19% said they would not live in Clinton if not for the college. Of particular interest to local businesses, 72.44% of students live in PC housing in Clinton. 

Vaughan said she is headed to Clemson University for a master’s degree in accounting, so this “number crunching” exercise was very interesting to her.

Her mentor professor, Norman Scarborough, said the numbers from her study will be shared outside of PC - through the news media and to the Clinton City and Laurens County governments. He said, “The county administrator, Jon Caime, is very interested in this study.”

He said Vaughan’s study uses IMPLAN software, the most sophisticated computer program for this kind of economic impact analysis.

Vaughan said in addition to the 595 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) that PC generates, the college provides a “social and cultural component” to the Clinton community.

PC President Bob Staton said the “visits to PC” component of the study also can be expanded.

He suggested looking at Girls State, Business Week, SC Science Weekend and sports camps in the summer among the additional visitor-generating activities of Presbyterian College.


(This presentation was part of the PC Honors Day Symposium, conducted April 19 at Neville Hall, Edmunds Hall and Harper Center. Presbyterian College is an institutional member of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Symposium organizers were: Stefan W. Wiecki, chair; Robert H. Freymeyer, Latha A. Gearheart, Robert A. Bryant, Sarah C. Burns, Katherine E. Hanlon, and Ron J.C. Zimmerman.)


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