The Ontario County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.2 million increase for Finger Lakes Community College’s annual budget on Thursday night to support the college’s continued enhancements to student achievement, workforce development, and the next generation of healthcare professionals in the region.
The $1.2 million is in addition to the $3.8 million sponsor contribution the board approved in August. This 32 percent increase in funding for FLCC was included in the 2024 Ontario County budget the board approved last night.
The infusion of new funds follows discussions between college and county leaders on the best way to advance the initiatives in the college’s new five-year strategic plan.
“FLCC has a strong tradition of providing superior educational opportunities to the students in our community and throughout the region,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Campbell of West Bloomfield. “Ontario County is thrilled to have collaborated with the college to come up with this new enhanced funding agreement to ensure that FLCC can continue to innovate and provide impactful educational services to the students of our community moving forward.”
FLCC President Robert Nye said the extra funding will provide immediate benefit to students through academic programming and support services.
“We truly appreciate county leaders’ partnership as we work to fill critical workforce needs in Ontario County and beyond,” he said.
The total $5 million in funding for FLCC represented in the 2024 county budget is for operations. The county also contributes $500,000 annually in capital improvements that is matched by the state.
The vote Thursday also follows the release of a report on the economic impact of the college on the seven-county region.
Lightcast, a provider of labor market analytics, found that FLCC adds $197.9 million in income annually to the regional economy. The college and Ontario County jointly sponsored the $20,000 study to understand the ripple effect of college operations and the return on the investment for students and taxpayers.
The study found that, on average, students make $4.90 in higher future earnings for every dollar they invest in their education. Taxpayers get a return of $2.40 for every dollar they invest in the college.
“Research has consistently shown the benefits of education for individuals and society in terms of greater earnings, improved health and other positive outcomes, but it has been fascinating to see how that translates to dollars and cents for a single institution,” Nye added. “The bottom line is the college creates more tax revenue than it gets.”
For the study, the Finger Lakes region is defined as Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Yates counties. Lightcast examined data for the 2020-21 fiscal year, drawing on academic and financial reports from FLCC, industry and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau, outputs of Lightcast’s modeling, and a variety of published materials relating education to social behavior. The full report is available at flcc.edu/about.
“Most people in our community think of FLCC as an institution of higher learning. While that is absolutely accurate, many don’t realize the incredible economic impact FLCC has on our county and our region. Ontario County was pleased to partner with the college to undertake the financial impact study conducted by Lightcast to provide quantification of the significant positive economic impact FLCC has on Ontario County. The overall impact FLCC has to our economy is both unsurprising and incredibly impressive,” said Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt.
The FLCC Board of Trustees adopted a new five-year strategic plan in August to focus on three areas: student success, opportunity and innovation, and community and industry engagement.
Economic Impact: Operations
To break down the overall economic impact, Lightcast considered FLCC’s payroll, purchasing and construction activity. The college employed 476 full-time and part-time faculty and staff with a payroll of $33.7 million in 2020-21, much of it spent on groceries, mortgage payments and other household expenses. FLCC spent another $14.1 million on day-to-day expenses related to facilities, supplies, and professional services.
Lightcast then calculated a net impact by simulating a scenario in which funds spent on the college are instead spent on consumer goods and savings. The net impact is $35.4 million in added income.
In addition, the net impact of FLCC’s construction spending to maintain and improve facilities was $1.7 million for one year.
Lightcast also estimated the impact of student spending by looking at two populations: 1) the approximately 10 percent of FLCC students who come from outside the region, and 2) an estimate of in-region students who would have otherwise left the area for other educational opportunities if not for FLCC. These two groups added $5 million to the economy with spending on groceries, housing and other living expenses.
Over the years, students have studied at FLCC and entered or re-entered the workforce with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Today, thousands of these former students are employed in the region. The net impact of former students currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $155.8 million in added income for the year.
Adding the impacts of FLCC operations, student spending and the added income of alumni, Lightcast arrived at annual revenue generation of $197.9 million.
Economic impact: Investment returns
The company then looked at the return on investment for students and taxpayers. FLCC students paid $13.6 million in 2020-21 to cover tuition, fees, supplies, and interest on student loans. They also gave up $11.8 million they would have earned had they been working instead of attending college.
In return for their investment, this group of students will receive a cumulative present value of $123.6 million in increased earnings over their working lives. This translates to a return of $4.90 in higher future earnings for every dollar students invest in their education. This means students’ average annual rate of return is 17.5 percent.
Taxpayers provided FLCC with $24.3 million in state and local funding. In return, they get back additional tax revenue stemming from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased business output, amounting to $51.7 million.
A reduced demand for government-funded services in New York will add another $6.7 million in benefits to taxpayers. For every dollar of public money invested in FLCC, taxpayers will receive $2.40 in return, over the course of students’ working lives. The average annual rate of return for taxpayers is 4.8 percent.