The Impact Higher Education Institutions Have on Our Regional Economy 

January 18, 2023 10:18 am

Over the past year, we have highlighted interviews with many of the higher education institutions in our region including North Shore Community College in Danvers and Lynn, Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, and Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. In each interview, we learned what’s happening on each campus as well as what is on the horizon for each school. 

Higher Education institutions are generally spaces where innovation happens and great ideas take flight. As we head into a new year, with even more positive changes on each campus, let’s take a look at how these institutions help our regional economy. 

In our conversations with President Heineman of the North Shore Community College, John Keenan of Salem State University, and Kurt Steinburg President of Montserrat College of Art, we learned about the positive role that higher education is playing in our little corner of the Bay State. 

Here are just a few of the positive impacts that the institutions of higher education in Essex County have on our regional economy. 

Links Between Colleges and Economic Prosperity

Before we explore a few of the positive impacts of colleges and our regional economy, it is important to note the unbreakable link between the two. 

According to the Forum of Higher Education online, “The prosperity of regional economies and the health of their colleges and universities are inescapably linked.” They go on to explain that colleges and universities have long been important economic drivers in their surrounding communities including providing a well-trained and educated workforce, as well as boosting the  businesses looking to employ them. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this symbiotic relationship between regional economic prosperity and local institutions of higher education has never been more apparent. 

Quality Workforce 

One of the most obvious benefits of having quality higher education institutions nearby is the quality workforce that colleges and universities provide. The higher education sector is pivotal in delivering career training, skills training, and certifications for many fields critical to our region. 

person writing on paper

The Driver of Innovation 

One of the key roles that universities play in different regions of the country (and the world) is being a driver of innovation. Higher education institutions are a hub of thought, creativity, and modernization. 

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, “Many of the greatest advances of recent years, including augmented reality, self-driving cars, combination therapies for HIV and cloud computing, were all born from research that took place at universities.”

Earning Power 

As each new class of graduates heads out into the workforce, they not only bring new ideas and skills but also stronger earning power the higher the degree and level of training. That earning power is like a cycle. The workers who live where they work, often put money right back into the region through purchases, taxes, and buying/renting property near their office. 

Collaboration between Institutions and Businesses 

College and university towns often have close relationships with businesses in the area. Nearby companies can partner with institutions for the development of internships, co-ops, and research. As these partnerships strengthen, so too does the regional economy. 

The engine of the economy starts with workers and continues with the innovation that many college graduates bring to that workforce. In this new year, let’s remember to continue to support our local institutions and the positive impact they have on our regional economy.