Rhodes College earns A+ for economic impact on Memphis

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 1:35 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2018 at 3:12 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Rhodes College is nationally known for its tradition of academic rigor and overall excellence, as well as an alluring campus that was ranked #1 by The Princeton Review as America's "most beautiful campus" in 2017.

Turns out all that beauty comes with significant investment. According to a new economic impact report, Rhodes spent $41 million on campus construction in 2017 alone.

Dr. Marjorie Hass, the new President of Rhodes College, unveiled a brand-new study revealing the economic impact the institution has on Memphis: a grand total of $316.6 million a year.

"We're very proud of that number and somewhat astonished by it," Hass told members of the Memphis Rotary Club meeting Downtown in the Clayborn Temple.

The report commissioned by Rhodes was authored by the highly regarded David H. Ciscel, Ph.D., Director, Memphis Forensic Economics, Professor Emeritus, University of Memphis and D. C. Sharp, Ph.D., Managing Director, Econ One Research, Inc.

The study says Rhodes faculty and staff earn incomes that total $36.8 million annually.

"Faculty and staff salaries/wages spent in the community generate an impact of $60.5 in incomes and 2,763 jobs; most of them in Memphis and many of them in the Midtown area," the report said.

The study says Rhodes operating budget is $69.2 million. The approximated value of the volunteer service performed annually by Rhodes students at $9.3 million.

"400,000 hours of service when you put a value on that, it's over $9 million if you had to hire people to do that service," Dr. Hass said.

Indeed, The Princeton Review ranked Rhodes student body of 2,025 as #2 nationally as most engaged in community service in 2017.

The economic impact study also counted how Rhodes attracts people to Memphis to attend intercollegiate sporting contests, alumni events as well as families investigating whether the school is the right fit for their college-bound high school student.

"We have visitors who come to Memphis. They stay in hotels; they eat in restaurants; they see the sights; they shop in the stores. Not only the students who come but the prospective ones," Dr. Hass said.

Those visitors generate $10.2 million for local restaurant, hotel and shop owners.

The report says students spending on off-campus living in apartments mostly in Midtown is $6.4 million annually but the total economic impact of those off-campus expenditures and others adds up to $11.8 million.

The report says Rhodes completed three on-campus construction projects in 2017 and the $41 million spent on them led to an economic impact of $86.3 million dollars on Memphis business activity, creating 691 jobs.

The report says Rhodes students are among the highest paid graduates in Tennessee, a typical graduate with a baccalaureate degree earning $97,100 after ten years of experience with lifetime earnings amounting to $3.3 million.

The study says graduates who remain in Memphis to build a career have a cumulative $555 million impact on the Memphis economy.

"Forty percent of recent graduating classes are staying in Memphis to build their careers and their families. This has a significant economic on Memphis as well as a significant cultural impact on Memphis: well educated, service-minded people in Memphis. We're very proud of that and want to see that continue," Dr. Hass told Rotarians.

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