Economic Development and Higher Education

GVSU creates $730M regional economic impact

Figure includes expenditures made by university, faculty, staff and students.

May 16, 2014
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) In addition to educating students, Grand Valley State University has a significant impact on the region in other ways.

GVSU released its annual economic impact report recently and pegged its total estimated regional influence at $730.1 million in three West Michigan counties.

Matt McLogan, vice president for university relations, said the economic impact reflects the communities hosting GVSU campuses, which derive significant economic benefit from the university’s presence.

“The model accounts for the economic impact created by the university as an employer and as a job creator by buying goods and services from local businesses that provide services for the university,” said McLogan. “We provide three-quarters of a billion dollars of economic stability.”

GVSU’s regional economic impact is measured by the increase in “sales” in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties that are a result of the university’s presence. According to McLogan, the term “sales” is used as a proxy for all the turnover of economic activity created by the existence of the university.

“If you aggregate the spending of the university itself, all of our faculty and staff, and all of our students, the impact of that money turning over in the tri-county region is $730.1 million,” said McLogan.

Using a model developed by an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, an independent nonprofit based in Kalamazoo, GVSU tracks funds cycling through the university in a given academic fiscal year. According to McLogan, several of the categories used in the model include: student tuition dollars; state appropriation funds; disbursement of additional spending by faculty, staff and students; and private gifts.

Expenditures made by the university, faculty, staff and students also are aggregated into the total economic impact and may encompass: construction projects on the multiple campuses; spending by students for off-campus housing and transportation; university research costs; and public services provided in the community.

“We try to track every dollar, and the model assigns an economic impact value to that dollar,” said McLogan.

The economic impact report highlighted new construction and renovation projects invested in by the university that put more than $21.7 million into the local economy in 2013, including a 151,000-square-foot science laboratory building on the Allendale campus. The report said roughly 500 trade and construction jobs were a result of projects invested in by the university.

According to the report, GVSU employs more than 3,200 individuals and enrolls more than 24,400 students who contribute to the economic impact in the tri-county region.

Additional findings included that approximately half of the 92,000 university alumni either live or work in the West Michigan region, and roughly 10,700 permanent off-campus employment positions were created as a result of the various GVSU campuses.

According to McLogan, the total estimated financial impact for the year is up from the previous year’s total of approximately $722 million, and is expected to increase significantly for the upcoming fiscal year due to fully incorporating expenditures on construction projects in Allendale.

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