Southwest Virginia Community College: Making an Impact an independent study on the college's economic value

This study measures the economic impacts created by SWCC on the business community and the benefits the college generates in return for the investments made by its key stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society. The following three analyses are presented: annual economic impact, athletics program economic impact and investment analysis.

Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) creates value in many ways. The college plays a key role in helping students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential. The college retains students in the region, boosting spending in the SWCC Service Area. SWCC provides students with the education, training, and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers. SWCC’s athletics program generates additional benefits for the regional economy through the spending of student athletes and visitors attracted to the region for athletic events.

Key Factors in Southwest's Annual Economic Impact


SWCC’s day-to-day operations spending added $15.7 million in regional income, equivalent to supporting 414 jobs in the region.

In FY 2018-19, the college employed 375 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, 79% of whom lived in the SWCC Service Area. Total payroll at SWCC was $12.7 million, much of which was spent in the region. In addition, the college spent $8.2 million on day-to-day expenses related to facilities, supplies, and professional services.


Student spending generated $748.4 thousand in added income for the regional economy in FY 2018-19, which supported 18 jobs in the SWCC Service Area.

Some in-region students, referred to as retained students, would have left the SWCC Service Area if not for the existence of SWCC. While attending the college, these retained students spent money on groceries, accommodation, transportation, and other household expenses.


In FY 2018-19, SWCC alumni generated $149.2 million in added income for the regional economy, which is equivalent to supporting 2,400 jobs.

Today, thousands of former SWCC students are employed in the SWCC Service Area. As a result of their SWCC educations, the students receive higher earnings and increase the productivity of the businesses that employ them.

One out of every 15 jobs in the SWCC Service Area is supported by the activities of SWCC and its students.

SWCC added $165.6 million in income to the SWCC Service Area economy during the analysis year, equal to the sum of the operations spending impact, the student spending impact, and the alumni impact. For context, the $165.6 million impact was equal to approximately 4.9% of the total gross regional product (GRP) of the SWCC Service Area. This contribution that the college provided on its own was slightly larger than the entire Manufacturing industry in the region.


SWCC’s athletics program, which began in FY 2019-20, includes a variety of NJCAA programs; its teams are the SWCC Flying Eagles. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, tennis, and wrestling, while women have their choice of basketball, crosscountry, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.

The total impact created by the athletics program is estimated to be at least $590.7 thousand in added income in FY 2019-20, equivalent to supporting 14 jobs. This impact is expected to increase throughout the rest of FY 2019-20, as well as in subsequent years as SWCC expands its athletics program.

SWCC is serving 171 student athletes in FY 2019-20. Of those student athletes, 83 are from outside the SWCC Service Area and relocated to the region to attend SWCC. These students' living expenses provide an economic boost for the SWCC Service Area that is attributable to SWCC. It is estimated that student athletes’ spending in FY 2019-20 will generate $509.6 thousand in income for the SWCC Service Area economy, which is equivalent to supporting 12 jobs.

The spending from out-of-region visitors drawn by athletic events is estimated to add at least $81 thousand in income for the SWCC Service Area economy in FY 2019-20, which is equivalent to supporting two jobs.

"Our redeveloped Athletics program is just getting started and we’ve already seen a positive impact on enrollment. Many of our student-athletes come from outside of our service area, which is good for the local economy and the diversity of our campus as well as the region." -Dr. Tommy Wright, SWCC President

The newly developed athletic programs at Southwest are impacting the local economy. Southwest is serving 171 student-athletes in FY 2019-20. 83 of these athletes are from outside the college’s service area.

The Emsi report finds student-athlete spending and visitor spending impacts the area with nearly $590 thousand and the Office of Institutional Research at Southwest estimates that student-athlete enrollment generates over $1 million from tuition paid and state funding received, totaling over $1.6 million.



In FY 2018-19, SWCC served 3,056 credit and 708 non-credit students. In order to attend the college, the students paid for tuition, fees, books, and supplies.

The total investment made by SWCC’s students in FY 2018-19 amounted to$18.1 million, equal to $4.3 million in out-of-pocket expenses and $13.7 million in forgone time and money.

In return for their investment, SWCC’s students will receive a stream of higher future earnings that will continue to grow throughout their working lives. For example, the average SWCC associate degree graduate from FY 2018-19 will see annual earnings that are $7,200 higher than a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Virginia.

The present value of the cumulative higher earnings that SWCC's FY 2018-19 students will receive over their working careers is $79.7 million.



SWCC generates more in tax revenue than it takes. These benefits to taxpayers consist primarily of taxes that the state and local government will collect from the added revenue created in the state.

By the end of the FY 2018-19 students’ working lives, the state and local government will have collected a present value of $18.3 million in added taxes.

For every dollar of public money invested in SWCC, taxpayers will receive a cumulative value of $2.30 over the course of the students’ working lives.

Benefits to taxpayers will also consist of savings generated by the improved lifestyles of SWCC students and the corresponding reduced government services. Students’ SWCC educations will generate savings in three main categories: 1) healthcare, 2) crime, and 3) income assistance.


Society as a whole in Virginia benefits from the presence of SWCC in two major ways; from an increased economic base in the state and from the savings generated by the improved lifestyles of SWCC students.

The social benefits of SWCC equal a present value of $224.4 million. These benefits include $218.5 million in added income through students’ increased lifetime earnings and increased business output as well as $6 million in social savings related to health, crime, and income assistance in Virginia.

Southwest's Flying Eagles Mascot, Freedom

The Value of the SWCC Educational Foundation

Although the Foundation’s economic value is not fully captured in the scope of this analysis, it provides significant value for the community, the college, and students.

The Foundation administers more than 200 annual scholarships, assists with many special events for the College and fundraising for scholarships. In addition, the Foundation provides the College with nearly $1 million to assist with travel, salaries, programming and other college needs each year.

The Foundation currently has approximately $29 million in assets, which includes scholarship and program funding, as well as properties, and is currently in the beginning phases of the third campaign in the 52-year history of Southwest. The Building Legacies Campaign hopes to raise $10 million to further support the College and its programs.


The results of the investment analysis of Southwest's economic impact demonstrates that SWCC is a strong investment for all three major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society.

As shown, students receive a great return for their investments in an SWCC education. At the same time, taxpayers’ investment in SWCC returns more to government budgets than it costs and creates a wide range of social benefits throughout Virginia.


The results of this study demonstrate that Southwest creates value from multiple perspectives.

The college benefits regional businesses by increasing consumer spending in the region and supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers to the workforce.

SWCC enriches the lives of students by raising their lifetime earnings and helping them achieve their individual potential.

The college benefits state and local taxpayers through increased tax receipts and a reduced demand for government-supported social services.

Finally, SWCC benefits society as a whole in Virginia by creating a more prosperous economy and generating a variety of savings through the improved lifestyles of students.

About the Economic Value Study

Data and assumptions used in the study are based on several sources, including the FY 2018-19 academic and financial reports from SWCC, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, outputs of Emsi’s Multi-Regional Social Accounting Matrix model, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior. The study applies a conservative methodology and follows standard practice using only the most recognized indicators of economic impact and investment effectiveness. For a full description of the data and approach used in the study, you may access the full report at https://sw.edu/economic-impact.

Emsi is a labor market analytics firm that integrates data from a wide variety of sources to serve professionals in higher education, economic development, workforce development, talent acquisition, and site selection. Emsi is a leading provider of economic impact studies and labor market data to educational institutions in the U.S. and internationally. Since 2000, Emsi has completed over 2,000 economic impact studies for institutions across three countries. For more information about Emsi’s products and services, visit www.economicmodeling.com.