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Local businesses anticipate college students’ arrival

2011-08-26

As the beginning of a new semester approaches, incoming students at St. Lawrence College (SLC) are sure to have a ripple effect in Cornwall.

According to a recent study, student and college spending generates a $22 million impact on the local economy.

Students are spending money on recreation, food, textbooks, entertainment and more.

Alison Proulx, manager at the Subway restaurant located on Montreal Rd, sees a significant boost in sales once the school year starts.

“It goes up at least another 25 or 30 per cent,” said Proulx, estimating that the revenue from college students alone is nearly $6000 a month. The strategic location of the store attracts students for potential job opportunities as well as lunch.

“They enjoy coming here because they can get a good meal at a modest price and they really enjoy the service” said Proulx.

Since its inception, the Cornwall Campus has graduated more than 17,000 students in diploma and degree programs. According to the alumni association more than half of these grads reside in Eastern Ontario.

“The financial impact is quite substantial when you consider that every employed graduate is not only paying taxes to support the community that they lived in, but spending their hard earned money on local goods and services,” said Don Fairweather, campus dean of St. Lawrence College.

The college directly supports the community’s needs through its graduates. One example of this is when the Cornwall Community Hospital experienced a shortage of nurses, St. Lawrence College started up a degree program in nursing (in partnership with Laurentian University) to combat this problem.

To other businesses, the value from the college is not only what students take away, but what they give back. Leigh MacDonald, branch manager of the Toronto-Dominion Bank on Ninth Street, knows it is not only the students who benefit.

“For us, it’s the flexibility of students who’ll work evenings and Saturdays, and we work around their school schedules,” said MacDonald.

With several SLC graduates currently working at the bank location, MacDonald sees a definite advantage to hiring people who already have a grasp of the job requirements.

“We often hire people out of the business program,” said MacDonald. “It shows that if they’re in college, they’re dedicated, they’re mature and focused, but it all comes down to how well they treat our customers at the end of the day.”

To be precise, the economic impact from the college covers an even wider range than just sales and job opportunities – from community programs such as workshops for the Encore Seniors’ Education Centre, to investing in the St. Lawrence River Institute, to supporting the arts and culture scene.

“The college, in my opinion, plays a valuable role in community development by changing the quality of life for people who live in our community. Like the MasterCard commercial says, it is 'priceless" said Fairweather.

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Written by Khadijah Vakily for St. Lawrence College.
Khadijah is a graduate from the Journalism program at St. Lawrence College.