The town of Elon has historically been linked to Elon University in many ways. The town and the school have a symbiotic relationship where both establishments feed and grow off of each other. This can be seen through the recent building of Elon’s town center, the University's BioBus, library, cultural center, and the extraordinary economic advancements of the town as Elon University prospers. As Elon University continues to develop into a nationally renowned school, the town of Elon will continue to advance and better itself economically and socially.
The Elon BioBus program has made different areas of Elon and Burlington accessible to students and local residents without access to other modes of transportation. With a growing campus and high demand for goods sold in department stores such as Target and Best Buy in Burlington, as well as a more spread out campus with the building of the Daniely flats and apartments, Elon University had a problem. Their solution was a eco-friendly bus system that connected the Elon Campus and the surrounding community. The BioBus is free for anyone who needs a ride and runs every ten minutes for the intercampus loops and every forty minutes for the University Drive loop. The BioBuses all run on bio-diesel, so they do not release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The BioBus has resulted in a closer, more connected community between student and resident, and has boosted the Elon/Burlington economy since popular shops became accessible to buyers without other transportation.
Other Elon establishments that are available to the public are the library and cultural center. Any community resident can go to the Elon library, check out books and CDs, or even access the internet. This is extremely beneficial to those who live in the Elon/Burlington community but don’t have access to such useful tools. Residents are also allowed to buy tickets to shows at the cultural center. Since there are very few venues in town for high quality performances this is a great option for Elon residents. The community can also enjoy the entertainment Elon University has to offer. Many can be seen at the weekly sports games, especially football.
Another beneficial change brought onto the town by Elon University is the town center. The Elon town center is a three story, 24,000 square foot building which includes a bookstore, pizza and ice cream shop, and the home to the Elon student newspaper, The Pendulum. Thousands of students flock to these locations to buy their books and to get a break from Elon’s cafeteria food. The result of the town center is not only a place for Alamance County locals to shop and eat, but also steady work for locals who need it.
Elon University stresses the importance of giving back to the community to each and every one of its students. 88% of Elon Students take part in community service experience before graduation. This is an easy feat at Elon since there are dozens of service groups and Greek associations that encourage giving back the community. In 2004, Elon students completed over 82,500 hours of community service. The impact of those hours on the surrounding community cannot be express in terms of money. The Students and faculty of Elon give time at organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, and many others. In fact, at least 100 Elon education majors serve as student teachers volunteering at local schools. The benefit the community sees from this service is immeasurable. What is measurable, however, is the economic impact Elon has on its surroundings.
Like any other private school in the country, tuition at Elon is expensive. Millions of dollars flow through the school every year. During the past few decades Elon has allocated tens of millions to the growth of the school structurally and academically. Students come from all over to study at Elon. Bringing their and their parents money to spend at different spots around the school. When the students or the school spend money building a new academic building or buying a sandwich the money may seem like it just disappears, but it is really injected into the local economy. A study released by the Elon University Office of Institutional Advancement in 2004 gave actual figures of the school's Economic impact on the surrounding community. The research in the study was done by students and faculty in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. It was found that the school annually generates $123 million of economic activity to the outward community through its operations and activities. The school's Alumni that operate in the same area generate around 95 million dollars of revenue. These figures are from 2004, so these numbers are most likely larger by now due to the recent growth of the campus. Elon University continues to design and build new dorms and academic buildings. The economic activity generated by Elon construction from 1997 to 2004 alone was around 25 million dollars. When all these figured of economic impact are combined the annual amount generated come out to a whopping 243.5 million dollars. This size of this economic impact reveals how reliant the surrounding community is on the University. Due to the influence of Elon on its surroundings, over 3,000 jobs have been created that didn’t exist in the area before. Many residents of the town of Elon depend on the University to live, and if Elon continues growing the way it has been, the school will support and better the lives of more and more locals. Last year Elon’s endowment grew 23.4 percent, which is the highest endowment increase percentage wise in North Carolina. With a growing Endowment and a rise in interest from High School students, Elon and the surrounding community looks to a bright future. Last year the number of applicants to Elon University exceeded 9,000, which is more applicants than the school has ever seen to this date. The rising interest in the University means more interest on the town as well. As the school grows and the average accepted student’s qualifications are higher due to rising competition the community will see more and more benefit. More jobs will be available on and around campus as more stores open. Professors and Faculty will be hired to account for the increase in student body. And more facilities will be built to accommodate the Universities larger size and reputation. This could eventually mean a more resourceful library for the community to use and more exciting sports games as the athletic program progresses.
Elon has an extraordinary impact on the community surrounding it. Historically the town has grown with the school. This can be seen through the growing town center in Elon’s recent years of growth . The University has a bright future, as does the town and surrounding community. As Elon grows there will be more community service, and more student spending which will result in a higher quality of life around the school, and ultimately a happier community.
http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/admissions-figures-04-04/ - Admission Figures
http://www.elon.edu/e-web/students/servicelearning/partners.xhtml- Service at Elon
https://org.elon.edu/transit/biobus/busMap.html - Elon BioBus(Source of Image)
https://www.elon.edu/e-net/docs/elon_economic_impact_2004.pdf - Economic Impact Report