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Homecoming is special time. And nowhere more than Orangeburg are homecomings a time to reflect on what the city’s two historically black universities mean to our locale.

South Carolina State University, the state’s only publicly supported HBCU, celebrated its homecoming during October. Claflin University, the oldest HBCU in the state, is marking homecoming this week. For Claflin, the observance carries extra significance as it kicks off the university’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Both institutions serve as beacons in the educational process for African-Americans and many others. Their records of educational success are significant. Their legacies carry on through generations of alumni. Their economic impact is substantial.

And just how significant economically was quantified in a 2017 study commissioned by the United Negro College Fund.

“HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities” breaks down impact by institution for the nation’s 100 HBCUs. The report includes employment by the schools and projected earnings of graduates based on 2014 data.

S.C. State University

• Total economic impact: $145 million in total economic impact for its local and regional economies. The estimate includes direct spending by S.C. State on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations — and by students attending the institution, as well as the follow-on effects of that spending.

• Total employment impact: Generates 1,546 jobs for its local and regional economies. Of this total, 756 are on-campus jobs and 790 are off-campus jobs.

For each job created on campus, another one public or private-sector job is created off campus because of S.C. State-related spending.

Looked at in a different way: Each $1 million initially spent by S.C. State and its students creates 10 jobs.

• Total lifetime earnings for graduates: The 698 S.C. State graduates in 2014 can expect total earnings of $1.8 billion over their lifetimes— 59 percent more than they could expect to earn without their college credentials.

Viewed on an individual basis, a South Carolina State graduate working full time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $984,000 in additional income due to a college credential.

Claflin University

• Total economic impact: Generates $79 million in total economic impact for its local and regional economies. The estimate includes direct spending by Claflin on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations — and by students attending the institution, as well as the follow-on effects of that spending. Every dollar spent by Claflin and its students produces $1.04 in initial and subsequent spending for its local and regional economies.

• Total employment impact: Generates 835 jobs for its local and regional economies. Of this total, 406 are on-campus jobs and 429 are off-campus jobs.

For each job created on campus, another 1.1 public and private-sector jobs are created off campus because of Claflin-related spending.

Looked at in a different way: Each $1 million initially spent by Claflin and its students creates 11 jobs.

• Total lifetime earnings for graduates: The 396 Claflin graduates in 2014 can expect total earnings of $1 billion over their lifetimes — 70 percent more than they could expect to earn without their college credentials.

Viewed on an individual basis, a Claflin graduate working full time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $1.1 million in additional income due to a college credential.

Call it dollars and sense: For homecoming and at all times, the universities give Orangeburg many reasons to celebrate being their home.

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