FMU adds $78 million in economic impact to Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A regional economic impact study found that Francis Marion University in Florence added more than $78 million into the local economy.

The three economists that released the study, say FMU is responsible or 1,000 jobs annually as well.

Wanda James and her husband, Arnett, have operated McDonald's restaurants in Florence for several years. She says she sees first hand part of the impact the university has on the town, as her drive through fills up late a night. She also says she has a number of students who work for her as well.

"After all McDonald's is a people business. And certainly want to reach out to those college students we have great opportunities we can offer to them," said James.

"We have very flexible hours, it allows them to attend to their school needs and compensate them so they can take care of their daily needs," said Jose Hernandez, another McDonald's owner in the Pee Dee.

Francis Marion University's dead for the School of Business, Dr. Barry O'Brien says FMU's impact reaches far beyond the direct financial impact. He says students and employees spend money locally helping to keep other businesses open.

"That generates revenue for those businesses of course those businesses employ people they receive wages, this is what we call the induced impact," said O'Brien.  "This number does not overstate the impact. To a reasonable degree of certainty we feel this number shows the annual economic impact to the Pee Dee region of having Francis Marion here."

O'Brien says their study also showed that once complete in the fall of this year, the new performing arts center downtown will bring an estimated $52 million into the economy.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.