Report: Paul Smith's College a major economic engine

A report released this week by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities states that Paul Smith's College generates an economic impact of about $64 million for the Tri-Lakes region.

Breaking down the numbers, the report shows the college contributes just over $56 million in spending and construction to the local economy.

Additionally, students and visitors to the college - which is located in the Franklin County town of Brighton - result in a $7.4 million economic impact.

Ken Aaron is communications director at Paul Smith's College. He says the commission's report does a good job highlighting the economic impact academic institutions have on their respective communities.

"That certainly includes our $8 million annual payroll - that's wages that go eventually come back to the local economy," Aaron said. "Of course it includes the money our students spend in the community at restaurants and stores. And it even includes the impact that construction projects like our new dorm have."

The college is currently constructing a new, environmentally-friendly dorm and Aaron says about 100 construction jobs have been created as a result.

The college's Kat Kash program has been successful in recent years. The program gives students the option of putting money on a sort of debit card that can be used at businesses in and around Saranac Lake.

Aaron says students have spent some $365,000 since the Kat Kash program was enacted in 2007.

Sylvie Nelson is executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

"$64 million - that's a significant economic impact from one single source," she said. "Without that, we'd certainly feel a difference in our local economy."

Aaron adds that the college is also a vital source of educated workers that often end up living in the area.

"Many area employers across a range of industries turn to us as a source of talent," he said. "We're happy with the report. It recognizes what many of us already know - that we're an important economic engine."

According to the commission's website, Clarkson University, Paul Smith's College and St. Lawrence University contribute a combined $563 million to the economy.

The three academic institutions are directly and indirectly responsible for an estimated 4,200 jobs.

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