CUPB analyzes economic impact study

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

 

A packet filled with statistical data addressing Eastern’s economic impact and a mobile platform proposal were presented during a meeting of the Council of University Planning and Budgeting Friday.

Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs, said an outside consulting firm was responsible for organizing and collecting the data for the “Eastern Illinois University Impact Study,” which took over a year to assemble.

The final document will be completed and distributed by March 8 or March 9.

The university used donated money to hire the consultants, so it did not cost anything but time, McCann said.

The report consists of 18 pages with of data; however, during the meeting McCann highlighted the “Multiplier Effect.”

“Somebody that works at the university takes their earnings and they go out and spend it in the community. By spending it in the community, that creates jobs out there, so instead of having one job you have two jobs; then, that person spends additional (money) so you get a third job,” McCann said.

The “Multiplier Effect” shows how much employees, staff and students from Eastern contribute financially to the surrounding area and the state as whole.

McCann said Eastern’s budget is somewhere between $214 million and $215 million.

Whatever money Eastern receives is doubled when put back out in the local economy.

“From the standpoint of the state, in 2015, they put about $40 million in to us they are getting somewhere around 10 times as much out of it to further our economy,” McCann said.

The purpose of the study was to show that Eastern is a good investment for the state because it helps the local and state economy significantly, McCann said.

“It’s looking at some of that reinvestment into the state. There, they are looking at $72 million back in. So they invest $40 million and they get $72 million,” he said. “Almost any way you look at this, Eastern is good for the region, the state, for Charleston, so that’s the message we want to end up giving to our legislators and to Springfield.”

CUPB chair Kathlene Shank said Eastern representatives should have a conversation with State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) discussing the study’s impact and adding a cover sheet with bullet points summarizing the major statistics.

McCann said staff members from Eastern will go to Springfield and personally hand-deliver the impact study to legislators, senators, representatives and their associates next week.

“We go to Springfield and they say ‘Wow, what good are you,’” McCann said. “This (report) now says what we do for the state of Illinois.”

Sace Elder, the EIU-UPI representative for the CUPB, said the impact study should include information and statistics that show how efficient Eastern is.

“When this document was first announced our state, (Gov. Bruce Rauner) said, ‘Yes, we know Eastern is very important to our state and to our region, we just want it to run efficiently,’” Elder said. “It’s the language of efficiency is what I think is going to get us in trouble, because efficiency is defined differently.”

The document does not currently have any language about efficiency.

Also at the meeting, Lynnette Drake, interim vice president for student affairs, said the Office of Student Affairs is working on creating a mobile student engagement platform that would be a readily available place so people can know what is happening on campus.

“It’s like a guidebook on steroids,” Drake said.

According an email distributed at the meeting, the platform would offer event management, texting, participation tracking, to-do lists, resource-sharing and news capabilities.

The types of apps Student Affairs is looking at would be able to filter students based on information from Banner software, so they could send messages directly to certain groups, such as different majors.

An outside company would create the mobile platform.

Drake said the cost could range from $10,000 to $15,000.

She said it is a good investment because it could increase students’ knowledge about what is happening on campus and increase participation in these events.

“When they are having conversations with people who are thinking about coming here, they can say we have a lot of stuff going on our campus,” Drake said.

The mobile platform will be similar to the weekly campus events email that is currently sent to students notifying them of different activities from Athletics, the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, Doudna performances and Tarble exhibits websites.

Drake said the activities promoted in the campus events email are downloaded from the campus events calendar, so if people do not contribute to the events calendar, they will not be promoted in the weekly email.

Richard England, dean of the Honors College, said because he is now aware of the weekly campus email, he will now promote his department’s events more often.

“It’s probably chicken and the egg. If I would have known that students are receiving the weekly email, which I have learned today, I would put the events that I have planned in a different way. If there was an app they’re using, I would do it the same way,” England said.

Drake said Student Affairs is considering hiring someone who will maintain the mobile platform.

The Office of Student Affairs has already selected three mobile application companies that could possibly create the platform and are asking people to participating in a demonstration.

If people are interested in testing out the apps, they can call the Office of Student Affairs for more information.

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]