Economic Development and Higher Education

GVSU creates $849M impact

Figure has risen by more than $100 million since 2015.

May 4, 2018
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Grand Valley’s economic survey includes financial information from both campuses but does not include figures regarding the economic impact of alumni in West Michigan. Courtesy GVSU

Grand Valley State University’s regional economic impact is an estimated $849 million.

The annual report covers Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties, this year using data observed between 2016 and 2017.

This year’s report shows an increase of $33 million from last year, $69 million from 2016 and $119 million from 2015.

Matthew McLogan, GVSU vice president for university relations, attributes the increases to factors such as several construction projects, steady enrollment and increased student spending.

Grand Valley employs more than 3,600 people and enrolls more than 25,000 students who spend money and pay taxes in the region. Employment counts toward $262.4 million. Total student expenditures are estimated at $202.8 million.

Student expenditures count toward 72 percent of GVSU’s revenue.

New construction and renovations have contributed more than $109 million to the local economy in 2017, creating 2,295 trade and construction jobs.

GVSU is expanding its Grand Rapids health campus with the opening of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, a $37.5-million, 84,000-square-foot project that will be used for the health professions and nursing programs.

A $20-million addition to the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts was completed on the Allendale campus last year.

Construction will begin in June for a new $70-million health building at 333 Michigan St. NE, next to Grand Valley’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. The five-story, 160,000-square-foot-building is slated to be finished in May 2021.

Over the past 20 years, GVSU has increased its space by 4 million square feet, McLogan said.

The study uses a model provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research to look at spending by the university itself and by faculty, staff and students.

The study does not include alumni activity.

Grand Valley alumni now number more than 117,000, and nearly half are living or working in the tri-county area. Of that, nearly 21,000 are in the business field, more than 14,500 are in the education field and more than 12,000 are in the health care field.

Top area employers of alumni include Amway, Mercy Health, Spectrum Health, Steelcase, Grand Rapids Public Schools and others.

The study found 93 percent of recent graduates are employed or pursuing advanced degrees. Of those working, 86 percent are employed in Michigan.

Most of the university’s students are from Michigan, but many come from dozens of other states and nearly 100 other countries, McLogan said.

McLogan said the university commissions the study each year to show the community “how important Grand Valley is to the local economy.”

“It’s not just that we educate students and create graduates, but the nearly billion-dollar economic impact of the university creates jobs in the private sector and is an important anchor of the local economy,” McLogan said.

“This enables folks to understand the importance of Grand Valley even if they may not have a college student in their own family.”

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