MECC aerial view

Mountain Empire Community College has release an impact report stating it added a total of $136.2 million to the Southwest Virginia economy in fiscal year 2017-18.

In an email, MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover stated: “We often share the economic value a college education provides to an individual. But, we also know that Mountain Empire Community College delivers economic benefit to the region it serves. We completed the study to demonstrate the quantifiable positive economic impact MECC provides the region as well as the individual credential earner. This study aimed to share that benefit with the communities we serve.”

Amy Greear, MECC’s vice president of institutional advancement, stated that one reason for doing the study was as a resource to seek grants.

“We thought having up-to-date economic impact data was an important component to grant writing,” said Greear. “When you have people investing in the college and the students, it’s important to come back and say, ‘here is how your investment is making an impact.’”

The study is divided into two sections, economic impact and investment analysis. It measures the impact created by the college on the business community and the benefits it generates in return for students, taxpayers and the local community.

The study states that the college “influences both the lives of its students and the local economy.”


The report suggests that the college adds economic value both an employer of regional residents and as a large-scale buyer of goods and services.

In fiscal year 2017-18, 84 percent of the college’s 246 faculty and staff lived in Southwest Virginia. “Total payroll at MECC was $10.7 million, much of which was spent in the region for groceries, mortgage and rent payments, dining out, and other household expenses.”

Another $7.7 million was spent on facilities, supplies and professional services expenses.

The report also states that MECC’s day-to-day operations spending added $13.3 million in income to the region during the 2017-18 fiscal year, which is the equivalent of 300 jobs.

The report suggests that some students would have left the region had it not been for the existence of the college. It stated that those students generated more than $750,000 in spending on household expenses, rent/mortgage, transportation and groceries during the analysis year while attending MECC. It also stated that alumni generated $122.2 million in added income for the regional economy, totaling a $136.2 million total regional impact.


The investment analysis evaluates the cost associated with a proposed venture against its expected benefits.

With 3,560 credit and 2,157 non-credit students attending MECC during the 2017-18 fiscal year, students paid a value of $4.7 million in tuition, fees and supplies.

In doing so, the study states, students also gave up $12.6 million in money that they would have earned had they been working instead of attending college.

“In return for their investment, MECC’s students will receive a stream of higher future earnings that will continue to grow throughout their working lives,” it notes. “For example, the average MECC associate degree graduate from FY 2017-18 will see an increase in earnings of $6,200 each year compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Southwest Virginia.”

That is nearly $100 million in increased earnings over their working lives, or a return of $5.80 in higher future earnings for every dollar students invested in their education.

The report also stated that taxpayers will benefit from the $8.4 million of funding during the analysis year by having added tax revenue and reduced demand for government-funded services in Virginia.

The report states that in turn, for the $34.1 million invested by the state during the analysis year, the Virginia economy will grow by $383.4 million over the course of students’ working lives.