News Release

Published on Thursday, October 11, 2012

Western Technical College today released an economic impact report created by NorthStar Consulting Group out of Madison. The report, titled “The Economic Impact of Additional Western Technical College Student Graduates to the Regional Economy,” looks at the impact of the additional 1,000 students Western projects it will be able to serve if the upcoming facilities referendum passes and they can fully implement the Vision 2020 strategic plan.

“We have been talking about the economic impact of the construction phase of the referendum projects, but we thought it was important to look at the cumulative impact of the increased number of students we can serve through the entire Vision 2020 plan,” said Lee Rasch, Western Technical College president.

Representatives from NorthStar Consulting Group presented a summary of the report, which provides an estimate of the economic impact of increasing Western graduates in the period 2015-2034.

The report states “Western Technical College proposes to expand its offerings to increase the number of associate degree holders in Western’s district. The increased number of graduates would result in an overall gain in spendable income in the district, because Western graduates earn considerably more than high school graduates and more than the overall U.S. average for associate degree holders.”

According to the report, the economic impact on the regional economy will include the following:

• By the year 2020, an additional 300 graduates per year who will stay and work in the Western district.
• An annual gain in spendable income that will rise to $4,318,500 by 2020 and that will accumulate each year and by the year 2034 will be $64,777,500.
• An economic impact of $6,477,750 in 2020 that will rise to over $97,000,000 by the year 2034.

According to Dr. David Ward, Ph.D., an analyst with NorthStar Consulting Group who co-authored the report, the results of the study are very impressive. “The economic impact of increasing the number of Western grads on the counties in the district will be significant. As the number of graduates rise, the gain in income will be spent in the district. That spending will fuel indirect and induced spending, which multiplies the impact of the earnings gain of Western graduates,” said Ward.

Vicki Markussen, executive director for the 7 Rivers Alliance, a regional economic development organization, also voiced her reaction to the report findings.

“We cannot talk about economic development without including education. It is the quality of our workforce that grows our businesses, keeps them here and attracts new ones,” said Markussen. “There is a rippling, economic impact through the direct dollars these future Western graduates will earn, but in addition, raising the educational level of our workforce increases the competitive advantages of our area’s businesses.”

Voters in all or part of 11 counties will be asked to approve the $79.8 million facilities referendum to fund six proposed capital facilities projects at Western. Along with upgraded curriculum, improved scheduling, and increased energy efficiency, the goal of the facility improvements is to allow the college to increase capacity and better serve a growing and diverse student population.

The yes or no referendum question will appear on the Nov. 6 election ballot. If the referendum passes, Western will be authorized to borrow the necessary funds over five years. The property tax impact on the owner of a $100,000 home is estimated not to exceed $39 annually with the $79.8 million borrowed over 20 years using conservative interest rate projections.

More information on the referendum and Western’s Vision 2020 plan can be found on the website, including dates and times of community information sessions to be held around the district.