Charleston’s public colleges and universities pump billions of dollars into the area, according to a study by the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

“We are a college town,” said College of Charleston President George Benson. “There’s no doubt about that.”

The report, “The Impact of Publicly Supported Higher Education on the Charleston Region,” was commissioned in 2012 and undertaken in partnership with the area’s four state-supported schools: The Citadel, College of Charleston, Medical University of South Carolina and Trident Technical College.

The study also includes economic impact data from Charleston Southern University, one of the state’s largest accredited private universities.

“These five higher education institutions collectively and individually have a substantial impact on the regional economy, our global competitiveness and the quality of life the Charleston region enjoys,” said Alliance President David Ginn.

The study found that these institutions have a $4.4 billion impact on business activity and create 41,000 jobs directly or indirectly.

It is unusual that instead of competing, the colleges collaborate and complement each other, said Travis James, vice president of TXP Inc., which analyzed the data with MGT of America.

The report also points out challenges, including urban campus constriction, lowered state government funding, lack of a comprehensive research institution, need for increased employment options for graduates and the need to off-set funding cuts by attracting out-of-state students.

To download the full report, go to opportunity-next.com/resources.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.