House Economic Opportunity Committee Discusses SIU's Impact on the Region

Apr 20, 2017

The Illinois House Economic Opportunity Committee hosted a hearing discussing the impact universities have on the communities they surround on Thursday.

The event took place in Carbondale, where Southern Illinois University continues to struggle during the state budget impasse.

Business owners, local officials, and university leaders gathered to discuss the local impact SIU has on the region with the House Economic Opportunity Committee.

Committee chair State Representative Christian Mitchell from Chicago says SIU and southern Illinois is important to his district because of the number of alumni and current students that attend SIU.

“Part of what I want to do is make the case for why higher education should be fully funded right.”

Mitchell says universities create an impact on both the student and the community.

“There’s the direct impact that college graduates make more money throughout their lifetime and that’s a really big deal, but it’s also that I think for example at SIU a student on average spends about $10,000 in disposable income here in the community just through out the course of the school year.”

Illinois universities are struggling to keep student in state due to the budget impasse.

Fewer students means less money for the region.

SIU President Randy Dunn let the committee know how important SIU is the whole region.

“Here as the university goes the region goes, we want to keep doing what we need to do to keep this area strong.”

Without funding some universities may face closure, which Mitchell says no one wants to see.

“Any of our universities closing it would be a devastating impact.”