LIA: Farmingdale State revs a strong economic engine

Smart money: Farmingdale State College has produced billions in regional domestic product over the last nine years, according to the Long Island Association.

Higher education on Long Island may be dominated by Hofstra and Stony Brook Universities, but a relatively small SUNY school is proving to be the region’s little economic engine that could.

A new and very detailed report compiled by Long Island Association Chief Economist John Rizzo pegs Farmingdale State College’s “economic impact” over the last nine years at $2.51 billion.

That’s the final tally reached in “Solving the Brain Drain: The Regional Impact of Farmingdale State College,” which investigated such areas as the number of jobs the school has created, Albany’s return on investment in the college and the impact of Farmingdale State’s “applied learning” focus – an educational strategy that takes every opportunity to offer real-world, hands-on experiences.

Factor in what the LIA called “dramatic growth in enrollment” during the 2009-2017 study period (Farmingdale State now boasts more than 9,600 matriculated students and the second-largest bachelor enrollment on Long Island) and you reach better than two-and-a-half billion dollars’ worth of economic productivity – evidence that Farmingdale State is “a critical asset to the vitality of Long Island,” according to college President John Nader.

“Farmingdale is an engine of opportunity for its students and the region,” Nader said Wednesday. “The investments we make in our students clearly yield great returns.”

John Nader: Farmingdale state is a “critical asset.”

While confirming the positive effect Farmingdale State has on the regional economy, the report – the latest in-depth study by the LIA Research Institute – dives deep into Long Island’s “brain drain,” the phenomenon through which Island-educated collegians bolt for friendlier socioeconomic climates.

As a “brain drain” primer, the LIA study includes county-by-county population projections, broken down by age groups (based on data from the Ithaca-based Cornell University College of Human Ecology), and industry-by-industry employment projections through 2022 (spoiler alert: expect an Island-wide 11.2 percent employment increase, according to the report, with new healthcare, food service and arts/entertainment jobs leading the way).

Regarding Farmingdale State, the statistics-heavy report breaks down several key factors, including the college’s operational expenses, the evolution of enrollment by program, average earnings of FSC graduates and other critical educational and economic elements.

Rizzo’s compilation also strives to dissect the college’s applied and experiential learning efforts, ultimately concluding that “a commitment to applied learning is one of the important ways in which FSC achieves its goal of preparing students for the workforce and equipping them with the in-demand skills of prospective employers.”

Put it all together, and Farmingdale State’s average annual economic output weighs in at better than $314 million, according to “Solving the Brain Drain,” with the college returning roughly $5 in economic output for every $1 invested by New York State between 2009 and 2017.

That’s nearly as impressive as the 19,800 jobs the report credits the college with creating over those nine years, with a distinct emphasis on applied sciences and technology – fields of study that directly support the rising industries rapidly forming Long Island’s new economic spine.

“As the report’s title indicated, we are addressing the ‘brain drain,’” Nader said. “Our students thrive here and contribute greatly to Long Island’s future.”

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