Study Reveals: Ridgewater’s Annual Impact Hits $155 million annually
March 30, 2023
Creating opportunities for students makes a difference for them as well as the communities a college like Ridgewater College serves, according to a recently released study from the Minnesota State system of public colleges and universities.
Based on fiscal year 2021-2022 information, Ridgewater’s annual economic impact totaled $155 million when considering everything from tax revenue and capital projects to student spending and employee volunteer time and donation contributions.
Ridgewater President Dr. Craig Johnson shared his perspective on the importance of the survey. “While this report provides clear data on the economic impact of Ridgewater College in our local area, it also provides strong evidence of the return on investment from the state funds that we receive every two years. Especially at a time when we are working hard to increase state support for the Minnesota State system, it is important to recognize that every tax dollar we receive is multiplied seven or eight times in terms of what we provide back to the community.”
Minnesota State commissioned the comprehensive impact study to be conducted by Parker Philips, a consulting firm specializing in economic impact analysis. The goal is to provide a full and credible assessment of the total economic, employment, and state and local tax impact of Minnesota’s largest provider of higher education and the 11th-largest employer in the state. Minnesota State then also shares individual college results.
Ridgewater’s $155 million contribution includes a direct impact of $87 million and an indirect or induced impact of $68 million. Direct contributions include such things as operational and capital expenditures, payroll and benefits paid to employees, and spending by students and visitors. Indirect factors include supply chain spending like increased demand for goods and services that supply or support the college, students and visitors. Induced impact includes household spending for housing, household goods, food, clothing, transportation, and entertainment.
“While the actual dollar amount of our impact in our communities demonstrates our value and return on investment, it is equally important to recognize the qualitative impact of Ridgewater College,” Johnson explained. “Every year, we positively impact thousands of individuals in our local communities and beyond by providing them with knowledge, skills and confidence to achieve their full potential, support their families, and strengthen our communities. That’s the real bottom line value of Ridgewater!”
As one of the larger employers in the region, Ridgewater supports and sustains 1,165 jobs (813 direct and 352 indirect). More than 300 direct jobs are Ridgewater employees at the college and in the communities.
During the 2021-22 year of the survey, 3,573 students were enrolled at Ridgewater, including full- and part-time students at the Willmar and Hutchinson campuses, as well as online students from near and far. Among the study body, 133 veterans also chose Ridgewater for education during the survey year.
The survey findings of Ridgewater’s economic impact are significant:
- $11.9 million — combined local and state tax revenue from Ridgewater, its suppliers, students and visitors (up more than $2 million from 5 years ago)
- $75.1 million — spending on operations and capital projects
- $79.9 million — student and visitor spending
- $80.3 million — alumni annual impact
The $80.3 million alumni impact is a result of more than 21,700 Ridgewater alumni who live and work in Minnesota.
“These graduates are an integral part of the Minnesota workforce, impacting the economy not only through their spending, but also through the extra earning power generated by their Ridgewater College
degree,” states the report. Over their anticipated 40-year careers, Ridgewater alumni are expected to generate $3.2 billion for the economy.
And it’s not just about the student and graduate experiences – the impact goes far beyond through giving back to communities. Employees and students donate nearly $300,000 to local charitable organizations annually and tally $1.6 million in volunteer time, for a total generosity factor of $1.9 million.
“This impressive report is also a testament to the incredible partnerships between the Willmar and Hutchinson communities and Ridgewater College,” said Katie Kleinhuizen, director of marketing and community outreach. “Our partners work with faculty and departments to bring relevant career skills into the classroom and support students through philanthropic endeavors to provide experiential learning opportunities. This results in graduates who are effectively prepared to impact the organizations they find employment with and our region.”
“As an open access institution, we provide a critical resource to area residents,” Johnson said. More than 44 percent of students are Pell-grant recipients, typically those with the greatest financial need. That compares to 37% for all of Minnesota State. In addition, more than 21 percent of Ridgewater students are first-generation students attending college, a bit more than the Minnesota statistic of 17.8 percent. “We take pride in providing resources and opportunities to help people rebuild and change their lives.”
Through the broader perspective, the survey also reported that the Minnesota State comprehensive system of seven state universities and 26 colleges and 54 campuses contributed more than $8.4 billion to the state’s economy in FY2022. For every $1 in state appropriation, Minnesota State generates nearly $11 in economic activity, according to the survey.
The full report recognizes that this study includes the unprecedented COVID pandemic years that impacted everything from student enrollment to the personal lives of everyone in the world.
“The COVID pandemic and resulting economic downturn altered the field of higher education,” states the report. “While the colleges and universities of Minnesota State adapted in many ways to ensure students could continue toward their academic goals, the pandemic and its aftermath affected many students’ ability to continue their education. Despite lower enrollment numbers, Minnesota State found many ways to positively impact the communities it serves.”
See the full report for Minnesota State and Ridgewater College at www.MinnState.edu/impact.