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City benefits from college, university

Posted on March 12, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

There is no doubt Lethbridge benefits greatly from having both a university and a college in the city.

The educational institutions offer students, from both southern Alberta and abroad, the opportunity to study in a wide variety of areas to prepare to fill the jobs of tomorrow. Between the two post-secondary schools, everything from careers in the trades to a future in the high-tech research industry can be achieved.

But what is often forgotten is just how much Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge contribute to the area’s economy.

Last week, the college released the results of a study by Economic Modeling Specialists International which shows just how much the college and those who graduate actually mean to the region.

Lethbridge College, like many similar institutions, is responsible for attracting students from outside our city who live and work in the area, which thereby creates jobs and benefits for 1,000 taxpaying residents, according to the study, which added the college is also key in training grads to fill jobs in high-demand areas.

According to the numbers, the college added $427.7 million to the regional economy during the 2011-12 school year, which reflects the impact of over 1,500 students who moved here. The net impact of college operations, according to the study, was measured at $63 million for that timeframe.

And for every dollar the province spent on the college during that academic year, society received a cumulative $12 million in savings, related to reduced crime, fewer demands for income assistance and increased well-being across the province, the study went on to say.

This particular study did not touch on the university but rest assured, the University of Lethbridge has also significantly boosted Lethbridge’s economic fortunes for decades. The university has grown and expanded, and like the college, will continue to provide opportunities for local students, those across Canada and even international learners for years to come.

Certainly, the benefits involved with having both a college and university in the same city go far beyond the findings of one study. Lethbridge has reaped the rewards of welcoming thousands of students every year and in many cases, those students have stuck around long past their post-secondary days to significantly impact the area.

College and university graduates are sprinkled throughout the region, and have contributed to the local workforce, made important research discoveries and have been responsible for starting up many businesses in the area. In short, the strength of this area, the diversity of our economy and the Lethbridge region’s low unemployment rate can all be traced back, to at least some extent, to our standing as a leader in post-secondary education.

The future also looks bright, with the college and university planning many exciting projects and initiatives to build upon their already solid reputations. At least in terms of post-secondary education, Lethbridge is headed in the right direction.

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