LECOM economic impact doubles to $91M in last 4 years

rdymond@bradenton.comJune 20, 2014 

Dr. Robert George, associate dean for the College of Medicine at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, talks Thursday about LECOM's economic impact with Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac. A study announced Thursday indicates LECOM exterts a $91 million annual impact on the Manatee County economy. RICHARD DYMOND/Bradenton Herald

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Since its first building opened in 2004, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lakewood Ranch has grown to 1,490 students between medical, dental, pharmaceutical and master's degree programs, all supported by 268 staff and employees.

The economic impact of the college, its staff and students on the area has not been measured since 2009.

But Thursday, a study revealed the total economic impact in 2013 of LECOM on the greater Bradenton area is $90.9 million, a 112 percent increase from the last estimate of $42.7 million. The last economic study had been completed in 2009, said Michael Visnosky, chairman of the LECOM Board of Trustees.

The latest study was performed by Tripp Umbach,

a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm. Results were announced at a videoconference at the LECOM School of Dental Medicine.

"It's rare to see this much economic impact in a four-year time growth," said Paul Umbach of Tripp Umbach. "We found that LECOM has been a leader in economic impact, community service and innovation."

"I didn't realize it was that many dollars," Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac said. "It's clear that LECOM is an important partner for Manatee County."

Drs. Robert Hirsch, LECOM School of Dental Medicine dean; Julie Wilkinson, LECOM School of Pharmacy dean; and Robert George, associate dean for the College of Medicine, also attended the press conference.

Besides the impact nearly 1,800 LECOM people have on retail sales, county taxes, hotel rentals and other income generators in Manatee County, LECOM spent $35.2 million constructing a new dental school in Lakewood Ranch, which created 383 construction jobs, according to the study.

"LECOM serves as an important anchor in its communities by virtue of creating jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues," the study stated. "LECOM's total impact has nearly doubled in five years, even though the college receives little to no state and federal support."

Dental school construction alone generated $54.6 million in economic growth, the study calculated.

The study found direct taxes paid and taxes generated from campus operations in Lakewood Ranch created $3.6 million in local government revenue, an increase of 157 percent since 2009.

LECOM jobs pay on average $32,000 more per year than the average job in the Manatee County market, according to the study.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.

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