Laurel Ridge pumped $265.7 million into local economy analysis reveals

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2024

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Laurel Ridge Graduates
Earnings from alumni and their employers contributed $227.4 million to the local economy, according to the analysis.

A recent economic impact analysis confirms that Laurel Ridge Community College does more than just enrich the minds of its students – it also has a significant positive economic impact on its service region.

Lightcast, a labor market analysis firm, conducted in-depth analyses on the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) as a whole, as well as several community colleges within the system, including Laurel Ridge.

The data revealed that in fiscal 2022, Virginia’s community colleges generated $11.6 billion in economic activity around the commonwealth. That is equivalent to 1.8 percent of Virginia’s total gross product. About $1 billion comes from operational spending and bringing new community college students to the state, with the remaining $10.6 billion coming from alumni and the businesses for which they work.

Lighthouse found that Laurel Ridge added $265.7 million – about 1.6 percent of the gross regional product – to its service region, which consists of Winchester, and the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren. This impact supported 3,753 jobs in the region, or one out of every 48 occupations.

The largest portion of this impact came from the increased earnings of Laurel Ridge alumni and their employers. This totaled $227.4 million and supported more than 2,900 jobs.

The college’s fiscal 2022 payroll, which included 671 employees, plus other college spending, added $24.5 million to the economy through consumer spending in the form of groceries, rent, mortgage payments, restaurant tabs and other purchases.

The study showed that for every one dollar in public funding invested in Laurel Ridge, taxpayers will receive $1.50 in cumulative value over the course of alumni’s work lives. This will come from the higher taxes those alumni will pay as they earn more money, as well as the higher taxes paid by their employers. By the time students from fiscal 2022 stop working, it’s estimated state and local governments will have collected an additional $53 million in taxes – in today’s present value – from them.

It is also anticipated those Laurel Ridge students will save the region’s taxpayers $4.5 million through reduced demand on the healthcare and justice systems and in welfare benefits. So, for the $38.8 million the college received in state and local funding in fiscal 2022, $57.5 million will be returned to taxpayers.

In fiscal 2022, the 7,612 credit students and 3,860 non-credit students enrolled in Laurel Ridge invested $38.1 million into their education, according to Lightcast. This came from tuition, fees, books and other supplies; loans and the interest they’ll pay on those loans; as well as the money some of them didn’t make because they attended college rather than went to work.

In return, these students can expect to make an additional $229 million in higher wages because of the education they received. A 2022 Laurel Ridge graduate is expected to earn $11,100 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma. Across someone’s working life, having an associate degree will earn them an additional $432,900 than they would’ve earned with just a high school education.

The college exists to serve the surrounding community, said Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser. 

“Our employees could work at many different places and in many different fields, but they choose to work at Laurel Ridge,” Dr. Blosser said. “I am proud of the work my colleagues do and its impact on our students and the Laurel Ridge service region, and so grateful for the support of our community and business partners, our local governments, the commonwealth and our generous donors.”

Laurel Ridge is a vital part of the region’s ecosystem, said Frederick County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Patrick Barker.

“One of Frederick County’s key value propositions to existing and prospective businesses is how our workforce development ecosystem supports learning at all levels,” said Barker. “Laurel Ridge Community College’s impact ripples well beyond this talking point into a significant regional economic driver.” 

The Lightcast study highlights the important economic role Virginia’s community colleges play, not only in revenue-generation, but in job and wealth-creation as well, said Virginia’s Community Colleges Chancellor David Doré. 

“It also serves to underscore the point that an investment in Virginia’s Community Colleges has consistently yielded a positive return for taxpayers, and I am confident that it will continue to do so well into the future,” he said.

Laurel Ridge’s 2022-2023 College Impact Report can be seen here.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.