Economic Impact of Berks County Colleges and Universities Tops $1 Billion
Berks County, Pennsylvania, gains more than $1
billion in economic benefit annually from its five
institutions of higher education – and nearly $250
million from Albright College.
A new study released by the Higher Education
Council of Berks County (HECBC) shows direct and
indirect impact is as much as $1.2 billion, with the
most conservative estimate at $923 million.
HECBC is a consortium of the five Berks County
colleges and universities: Albright College,
Alvernia College, Kutztown University, Penn State
Berks and Reading Area Community College.
Albright’s individual economic impact ranges
from a conservative $188,135,487 to a high of
The five institutions enroll more than 21,000
students, employ more than 2,600 people fulltime,
and attract more than 128,000 visitors
annually. Key parameters used to calculate direct
economic impact included institutional core
spending, discretionary student spending, rental
payments and visitors to campus. Also calculated
was student volunteer time, which at Albright
amounted to 17,000 hours in 2006-07.
Other activities outside the scope of the
study are also beneficial to the region’s economic
welfare and quality of life, including cultural
events, workforce readiness of graduates, internships
and co-ops, external grants, entrepreneurial
enterprises, library and library resources, and tax
revenues from student and visitor spending.
The study also did not address the local
colleges’ role in serving the underserved, the
unemployed and the underemployed. Additionally,
as colleges and universities have grown, they
have added many new white-collar and bluecollar
positions with benefits to support increased
[ Albright’s economic impact ranges from a conservative $188,135,487 to a high of $249,525,420. ]
“The impact of Albright and the other colleges
and universities is tremendous,” said President
Lex McMillan. “We have often talked about
Albright as the anchor of our sector of the city. We
not only stabilize the area and contribute to quality
of life, but we also are an economic engine,
making a truly significant economic difference in
the local neighborhood, the entire city of Reading and Berks County.”
For the five institutions, core spending
approached $200 million. Student spending is
estimated at $28 - 65 million. Rent and housing
is $10 -16 million. Visitors spend $102-114 million.
Total of direct spending by campus and students
is estimated between $328 - $378 million.
The multipliers used to calculate the total
economic impact (1.7 percent and 2.3 percent)
are conservative compared to industry standards,
according to Lolita Paff, associate professor of
business economics at Penn State Berks, who
coordinated the study along with research staff at
the five institutions.
HECBC conducted a previous economic
impact study in 2001, and recalculated the impact
because of new capital investments and continued
growth in student enrollment.
The full study is online at http://www.berks.
psu.edu/hecbc. The study was based on 2004