During an address to the community on Wednesday, September 6, University of Houston economist Dr. Barton Smith highlighted findings from his recent study that demonstrated, among other conclusions, the University of Houston-Victoria’s annual impact on the area’s economy was equal to that of a major corporation.
During the course of his study, Smith determined that much of the $32.5 million in new funds UHV attracts to Victoria yearly stays within the region. Thus, these funds are able to produce a cascade effect of economic benefit totaling about $98 million. He also demonstrated that the university’s support of local business endeavors and cultural events offered additional benefits to the region.
While introducing Smith, UHV President Tim Hudson said, “Dr. Smith’s research shows how the university impacts everyone in the community--not just its students, faculty and staff.”
Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong agreed: “The Victoria area is part of a global economy. Education will be key to the successes of future generations.”
Also speaking at the presentation were Lee Keeling, chair of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation board of directors, and Morgan Dunn O’Connor, regent for the University of Houston System.
While the economic figures were impressive, the report was not entirely positive. It also stressed a need for the area to increase the number of college graduates in its workforce in order to be competitive with other areas of the state and country.
Smith asserted, “If you want to grow, if you want to prosper, if you want your children to prosper, you have to change these numbers.”
When compared with five other Texas cities of similar size, Victoria had the lowest percentage of persons holding bachelor’s degrees and the slowest growth in educational attainment, according to the 2000 census data. Smith pointed out that educational attainment levels are a main attraction for potential businesses and industries wishing to relocate.He challenged the audience: “When a prospective business asks about your labor force, how impressive is it going to be when you say that just 10 percent of your population has a bachelor’s degree?”
Upon hearing these findings, Keeling responded, “It’s extremely important that we begin to change some of these trends in our community and take Dr. Smith’s presentation as a wake-up call.”
During the past 15 years, Smith has conducted numerous studies of the Texas economy, examining urban issues, housing, transportation and the environment. He is considered by many to be the most respected economic forecaster in the region.
Attendees of the presentation were given booklets containing highlights of the study specific to UHV and the Victoria community. To view the booklet, visit this site. For more information, contact Director of Communications and Marketing Markeda Wade at (361) 570-4350.