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E&H Claims of $50 Million
Economic Impact Questionable

by Lewis Loflin

Emory Virginia consists of a post office and little more. It doesn't even have a gas station or pizza parlor that I saw when I visited there. The post office is directly across from E&H College, a private non-profit institution that pays zero in property taxes and has no apparent positive impact on the economy of the surrounding community. The nearby towns of Glade Spring and Meadowview are just as empty and rundown as Emory Virginia is. They have to beg for outside government grants to fill pot holes.

But according to a study commissioned by the College itself to celebrate its 175th anniversary, E&H has a $50 million economic impact on the community. But where is that impact? They won't specify exactly. To quote college spokesman Dirk Moore,

"We were curious to know just what kind of economic impact we did have...but we also wanted the people in this region to have an understanding of what kind of impact we have on the economy here, and it turns out to be pretty big. I think that people in this region, in this community, can be proud to have Emory & Henry. Not only is it a top-ranked institution of high quality, it's also one that's bringing in a lot of good jobs and really serving the economy well...officials estimate the students spend about $3.65 million annually."

Then Dirk needs to explain away the double-digit poverty in the surrounding communities and be more specific where that "impact" is because I can't see it. The press reports based on a college news release say they have "446 full-time jobs, $16.1 million in household earnings and $14.3 million in scholarships and grants to students." No Mr. Moore the economic impact is about $20 million and that stays within the college itself and doesn't flow to the surrounding communities.

So where do they get $50 million? So-called multipliers which are simply academic dribble. I'm not questioning the credentials of the College, but the number of government subsidies and handouts it gets and some of those are illegal under Virginia law. Under Virginia Law giving tax dollars to non-profits is illegal.

First of all they got over $500,000 from the taxpayers to setup a public radio station WEHC, 90.7 FM. These grants from the Virginia Tobacco Commission that was supposed to assist displaced workers in the surrounding community instead was diverted to their radio station under the guise of economic development. When I asked them to explain how a second National Public Radio station in the same community was economic development, they had no idea. Must have been a great business success because they are back begging for donations to keep it running.

President Rosalind Reichard claims they give so much back to the public: "Emory & Henry has a long history of giving back to this community, not only through its impressive record of community service, but also through its direct economic impact on the region." Other than liberal activism that's detested by most of the community, I suppose a second source for NPR is just what the jobless citizens need in such trying times. Being that the community subsidizes the college, let's see a list of jobs in the surrounding community.

Ref. BHC August 30, 2011.

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