SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - A study shows the impact McNeese State University has on both the region and state. The study laid out some key factors that could potentially impact the future of Southwest Louisiana's workforce and questioned the future of higher education in Louisiana.
Conducted by Dr. Mostafa Malki, an economics and finance lecturer at the University of North Texas, the study revealed that McNeese actually gave the state more money back in tax revenues then it received in state appropriations for 2015.
"Because this is a non-for-profit institution, their role is basically to build the basis, a strong base, for the economy, the region, so that we have sustainable economic growth and a strong economy - so we have to have an educated workforce to be able to compete with the rest of the world," he said.
The study was based on several key factors – university expenditures, faculty and staff expenditures, student spending, sporting and cultural events, and other extra-curricular activities - that showed the impact.
According to Malki's study, in 2015 the university's total annual economic impact statewide was $407.8 million and $371.6 million on the Southwest Louisiana region.
And the total fiscal impact to state and local government was $22.7 million, while the state appropriations were only $19.2 million.
"We're generating more tax revenue to the state than the state is paying for McNeese," said George Swift, president & CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.
This is something that higher education supporters believe could impact Southwest Louisiana's future workforce.
"We don't believe at the Chamber Southwest that McNeese can sustain any further cuts and have quality programs in engineering and nursing and education and college of business and all the things that they have and so, we think it's time to invest in education and not make any further cuts, especially with all the projects we have coming to our area, it just doesn't make sense," Swift said.
With Gov. John Bel Edwards' proposed mid-year cuts from higher education, McNeese's president, Philip Williams, said that would be another obstacle the university would have to face.
"If we were to be cut, then that's less that we can do for the state, but hopefully, the state will realize that higher education is a big benefit, not only to the community, to the 12 -parish Southwest Louisiana area, but to the state as a whole," he said.