Wingate University has Powerful Tool to Analyze Economic Impacts of Local Businesses

November 21, 2023

Measuring Economic Impact

Wingate University has a powerful tool that can help local businesses and nonprofits understand the impact they have on the local economy and the value added by their operations.  IMPLAN is a software that uses economic data and modeling techniques to estimate the direct, indirect, and induced impacts of any activity on a specific region.

Take the example of a new car dealership opening in town. A direct impact (a change to the economy) would be the number of people employed by the dealership. An indirect impact (changes to the supply chain) would include the increase in vehicles available in the area. An induced impact (changes in household spending) would be the additional spending at local businesses by those newly hired employees.

Benefits of IMPLAN Software

Wingate University is one of the few institutions in the country that offers a course on IMPLAN that teaches students how to use the software to conduct economic impact analyses for real-world clients. Dr. Kristin Stowe works with students on projects using the software.

“There are benefits for the students as well as for the business with IMPLAN.” Dr. Stowe says. “Students enjoy doing work that is useful for a community member. The students also learn important skills like data analysis, critical thinking, how to communicate professionally, how to work with other people’s schedules, make presentations, and write professional reports.”

Goulston Technologies logo

Goulston Technologies Economic Impact 

One of the clients that Wingate students have worked with is Goulston Technologies, a leading manufacturer of specialty chemicals and fibers based in Monroe, North Carolina.

Srinivasan Ranganathan, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Goulston shares, “We chose to work with Wingate as we were impressed with the methodology used to measure the economic impact of our company on the local and regional community. It looks at the impact of both the operations (output and employment) and construction (capital investments). We felt Wingate’s approach is more holistic in measuring the economic benefits we bring to the community. It was also a good opportunity to assist Wingate Economics/business students in learning how the local businesses impact the local community and economy.”

Goulston provided Stowe and her students with information including the number of employees and sales. The students used IMPLAN to estimate the total economic impacts of Goulston’s operations. The results showed that Goulston supports 1,174 jobs, generates $77.6 million in income, and adds $113.9 million in value to the Union County economy. At the state level, Goulston supports 1,545 jobs, generates $101.9 million in income, and adds $149.5 million in value to North Carolina.

“We presented the results in an infographic that Goulston executives can use when talking with local, county, or state officials to showcase its importance to the local and state economy,” Stowe says.

Ranganathan shares these thoughts on the outcome of the report, “We were pleased to learn quantitatively the magnitude of the economic impact our company has on the local economy. We have always known that our business has much broader economic impact on Union County than the number of employees who work here and their total compensation. It was very useful to estimate the indirect jobs that we support through construction and other services such as retail, restaurants, and trucking.”

Dr. Kristin Stowe headshot

Economic Impact for Nonprofits

Stowe also sees IMPLAN being a powerful tool for nonprofits. “It can be a great differentiator for nonprofits when applying for grants. They need something to stand out in the eyes of the grant writers. So if they can say they helped 40 people and because of that help, their households were able to do other things, make other purchases supporting the local economy it can help with those grant applications.  It can also help with making donors and the community aware of how their efforts ripple across the community.”

The Council on Aging in Union County also worked with Dr. Stowe and Wingate students in 2021. Their report showed that each $1 spent by the Council on Aging in Union County added $1.54 to the County’s GDP in 2019.

Wingate students have also used IMPLAN to analyze the economic impacts of various topics and events, such as the Super Bowl, the COVID-19 pandemic, and electric vehicle production in Chatham County. Dr. Stowe and a student shared about that Chatham County project in a webinar for IMPLAN.

Local businesses and nonprofits interested in working with Wingate can contact Dr. Kristin Stowe at 704-233-8136.

Last modified: November 21, 2023

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