Downtown Chattanooga

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August 22, 2017
How Does a University Impact Their City?
How Does a University Impact Their City?

Did you know that about 68% of alumni from two-year colleges and 42% percent of alumni from four-year universities remain in the same area after graduation? So what does that mean for a city?


According to a study by Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, graduates enter the workforce, statistically making more money than those without a degree and promoting long-term economic stability for the city in which they studied. 


The benefits do not stop at economics; they also benefit development and social issues. In an article by Times Higher Education, it is explained that a metro university can often mean stronger city planning and be a benefit to social concerns. Author Clare Melhuish, a senior research associate and co-director at the University College London Urban Laboratory, describes universities as a catalyst for redevelopment and overall improvement of urban areas. She feels that the presence of a large population of students challenges planning norms and patterns as well as the dedication to solve social problems.


Students and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia are working to show the connection of urban higher education institutions and their innovation impact on their host city. In their 2015 Economic Impact Report, the university accounted for 10.8 billion in economic impact in Philadelphia and approximately 68,500 direct, indirect and induced jobs for the city. The University of Pennsylvania was also instrumental in the creation of the University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) which connects the unemployed of West Philadelphia with housing and jobs with some of the city's largest employees.


The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has had a strong impact on the City of Chattanooga. What would we be without the bustling population of over 11,000 students the university brings to this city each fall? How would our economic development suffer without their contribution to employment, housing, spending and innovation? After all, the idea for a riverside aquarium, one of the cornerstones of the Scenic City, came from a group of students.


Photo Credits: The University of Tennessee Chattanooga