Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 9, 2013

Economic impact — Great potential from dental school


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— A newly released economic impact report on the planned dental school project for Tazewell County shows great potential for the region as it relates to job creation, new tax revenue and related benefits.

The dental school is a project between Bluefield College, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority. It is proposed to serve 19 different counties in Southwest Virginia that have been identified as dental health professional shortage areas.

Dr. David Olive, president of Bluefield College, presented the economic impact report last week to the board of supervisors. It was prepared by Mangum Economic Consulting LLC of Richmond, Va. Officials hope to see the first class of students enrolled at the dental college by 2015. The dental school will be developed at the Bluestone Regional Technology Park, which is located near Bluefield, Va. just off of U.S. Route 460.

The report found the dental school would not only address critical shortages of dental health professionals in the region but also support a high growth industry and provide a significant economic contribution to 19 counties in Southwest Virginia. It also found that a significant lack of dental health care providers in the region is contributing to high rates of dental problems among local children.

In terms of economic development, the report concluded the dental school is expected to create 136 jobs during its first four years of operation with anticipated tax revenue to the county of $1.5 million and an expected total economic output of $10.4 million.

Another 116 equivalent, or related jobs, would be created throughout the region as a result of the dental school with an estimated $8.1 million in total economic activity, according to the report.

After the dental school has been in operation for seven years, the report concluded it is expected to create 245 jobs with $2.6 million in total tax revenue for Tazewell County and an estimated $18 million in total economic output. It found that another 239 jobs would be created for the region and another $17.4 million in total economic activity after seven years.

As correctly noted by Seth White, the Northwestern District member on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, one needs to look no further than neighboring Buchanan County for evidence of how successful the higher education job-creation model can be. Buchanan County is home to a law school, pharmaceutical school and now a planned optometry school.

While such reports are simply projections that are subject to change, and economic conditions of the future, the findings of the dental school study are still quite promising. The new school of dentistry is an exciting collaboration that holds great potential for the region as a whole.

That’s why it is our hope that work can be expedited on this important project.