The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, a trade association composed of 14 colleges and universities in the DC area, released last week its most comprehensive study to date on the economic impact of the region’s higher education institutions.  The study found that despite lagging numbers in many different industries, DC colleges and universities are among the most robust sectors for employment and economic impact.

The study, conducted by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis and named Capital Assets: Economic Impact and Beyond, found that area universities add $11.3 billion to the regional economy annually.  The Washington-area economy grew $2.14 for each dollar spent by consortium members and almost 16,000 District jobs are supported by colleges and universities.  The impact goes beyond money, however, as local students perform over 600,000 community service hours annually which the studied valued at $18.9 million.

“Consortium university students contribute while in school with community service projects, educational activities and legal clinics,” said Consortium President and CEO John Childers. “As alumni, they contribute to the economic growth and vitality of the region.”

“It is vital that host cities have a clear understanding of the total “dollars” that this study provides; it captures the most detailed inventory of economic contributions and the character of place,” said Kim Griffo, executive director of the International Town and Gown Association. “To have a study of this magnitude take place in D.C. is tremendously important so legislators from across our nation have a full understanding of the importance of living, learning economies, to work with them and not smother and stifle these economic engines with budget cuts.”

More information about the study and its numbers can be found here.  The Consortium of Universities is another example of how associations and nonprofits are helping drive the economy and society in a variety of ways.