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Colby College Says Its Economic Impact On Surrounding Community Tops $1 Billion

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public
Colby College President David Green presents a new economic impact report Tuesday at the Chace Community Forum in Waterville.

As Colby College continues to purchase and develop new building projects in downtown Waterville, officials are touting a new report which indicates that the private college has generated more than $1 billion in economic activity in the Waterville region over the past five years.The report, commissioned by the school, looks at total spending by students, visitors and employees, as well as the effects of more than $170 million that the school has invested in projects on campus and across the city, including a planned athletics facility and hotel.

Unveiling the report Tuesday at an event in Waterville, Colby President David Greene said those sorts of investments have helped Waterville's population grow, while its surrounding areas have struggled to recover economically. Greene said he hopes the work from Colby and its partnerships with other philanthropists and community groups can serve as a model to help other towns.

"It's not just about having an anchor institution with resources," Green said. "There are many of our communities that have those, as well. It's a matter of priority for those institutions to commit to supporting their communities in important ways."

Greene said institutions like colleges should take the lead in providing that support, particularly those struggling economically. "But in this state, we haven't thought enough about the way that we support our colleges and universities. And think about them as essential to the future of this state."

Greene said the school plans to continue to monitor economic indicators in Waterville as more buildings break ground and open in the city.

The new report also looked at the school's graduates and found that 15 percent of alumni still work in Maine.

Originally posted 2:10 p.m. Oct. 15, 2019