Small Colleges Can Make a Big Impact in Their State

While large universities seem to get all the attention and notoriety, there are smaller, local colleges that are making an enormous impact on their surrounding areas and overall state.

For one, Champlain College is calculated to be contributing $446 million to the state of Vermont, according to a new report from EconIMPACT. The report assesses economic-related contributions from the college, including spending, knowledge, local government, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.

Even with less than 1,800 students, the private college in Burlington, Vermont, contributes $446 million to the state per year. The contribution is made possible through graduates who own more than a thousand small businesses in Vermont, employing more than 3,000 workers.

Champlain College also serves as a net importer of talent, meaning that students come to Vermont for their schooling and then stay to work and live post graduation. Additionally, the college boasts unique business and community partnerships that provide a multitude of student opportunities for experiential learning and local networking.

The report, “The Economic Impact of Champlain College on Burlington and Vermont,” was completed by Kevin Stokes, CEO of EconIMPACT.  a provider of Economic Impact studies for private universities. Stokes has developed a unique method for determining the impact of higher education on municipal budgets and has worked with various colleges and universities.

The key findings include: 

  • The College is a net importer of skilled talent to Vermont — almost 20% of Champlain College students come from Vermont, and nearly 40% of graduates stay in Vermont after graduation
  • There are 1,020 Vermont small businesses owned by Champlain alumni that created a total of 3,105 jobs and $270 million in revenue 
  • 11,817 Champlain alumni reside in Vermont

The college is well known for its “Upside-Down” curriculum, a distinctive and innovative approach to career-focused education, helping students be “Ready for Work. Ready for Life. Ready to Make a Difference.” This unique approach permits students to enroll in courses in their major within their first semester, giving students the opportunity to explore the topics and interests they're most passionate about.

"Champlain College’s career-focused education prepares students to be ready for work, ready for life, and ready to make a difference right here in Vermont,” said Alex Hernandez, Champlain College President. "Our institution, faculty, and students are serving as an engine of opportunity for the state — with nearly half of our graduates remaining in Vermont to start local businesses or work for Vermont-based companies."

Champlain ranks in multiple categories of U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges,” including Best Value Schools, Best Colleges in the North, Best Colleges for Veterans, and Top Performers on Social Mobility. The college was also listed among The Princeton Review’s “The Best 388 Colleges” in 2023 and was recognized as a 2022 College of Distinction for its “Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.”

Champlain College’s career-focused programs demonstrate great economic success by promoting the growth of start-up businesses, a highly-skilled workforce, and a net import of talent to the state. With this approach, the college has had a profound impact on its students, faculty, graduates, the Burlington community, and the greater Vermont area. 

By placing the emphasis on career, the college is attracting students from around the world. With an inspired curriculum and its clear focus, Champlain College is actively readying their students for critical, high-skilled jobs and directly contributing to the economic and entrepreneurial growth of their home state.