IMPACT: UW-Superior is wealth generator in local economy - Dec 16, 2009 - University News - UW-Superior News and Events

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IMPACT: UW-Superior is wealth generator in local economy

Posted on Dec 16, 2009

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The University of Wisconsin-Superior generates approximately $41.2 million in spending and income for Superior and Douglas County, and is responsible for sustaining about 785 full- and part-time jobs for the local economy, according to a new economic impact study commissioned by the UW-Superior Foundation with technical assistance from the UW-Superior Alumni Association. (Read the Economic Impact Study)

The study shows that a person completing an undergraduate degree from UW-Superior can expect to earn an average long-term internal rate of return of at least 11 percent on his or her educational investment.

Also, statewide taxpayers who help support the cost of educating students at UW-Superior earn a 4.4 percent rate of return on funding invested in UW-Superior.

In addition, the study indicates that the university's strongest relationships with the local business community are in the professional, governmental, finance/insurance/real estate, and energy/utilities sectors. Community and business leaders agree that UW-Superior substantially improves the quality of life to Superior and Douglas County

The study, titled "Economic Impact Study: UW-Superior and the Local Economy," was led by Dr. Robert Beam, professor of economics in UW-Superior's Department of Business and Economics, and UW-Superior student researchers and co-authors Grant McDonough, Bria Fennessey, Shawn Mjelde and Roger Lederer. The full study can be accessed online at

Rick Thrasher, chair of the UW-Superior Foundation Board of Directors and a career-long economic development executive and former executive director of the Superior-Douglas County Development Association, said the study clearly shows the university is a high-valued player in the local economy.

"Business owners throughout Superior and Douglas County consider UWS critically important to the local economy according to this survey," said Thrasher. "UW-Superior is a vital economic player in this community."

The economic impact study "measures what would be lost in jobs and income if UW-Superior were not here," Beam said.

Based on the latest information available for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, along with IMPLAN, an economic impact modeling program, the study's findings showed:

  • Spending by UW-Superior and its 471 full-and part-time employees (including student workers and temporary employees) generates total income of approximately $31.7 million and sustains 574 jobs in Superior and Douglas County.
  • UW-Superior student spending adds another $8.1 million and sustains an additional 179 jobs.
  • Tourists who come to Superior to visit students, attend university conferences, and watch or compete in athletic contests contribute approximately $1.5 million, which supports about 32 local jobs.
  • Sectors of the local economy in which UW-Superior's local impact is greatest include retail; information; finance/insurance; health/social services; arts/entertainment/recreation; and government.
  • UW-Superior has an impact beyond Superior and Douglas County. The university has additional economic impact through money it spends with vendors and contractors outside the local area. Much of the university's spending outside Douglas County is mandated through state contracts.

The Economic Impact Study also examines the economic value of a UW-Superior education to students and to Wisconsin taxpayers. The study measures a college degree as an investment of the time and money spent earning the degree in return for increased income over the university graduate's working life.

Looking at the cost of earning a degree at UW-Superior and setting that against U.S. Census Bureau figures showing college graduates earn more over their lifetimes than high school graduates, the Economic Impact Study determined that investing in a bachelor's degree from UW-Superior is expected to earn the investor an average long-term internal rate of return of at least 11 percent APR.

In addition to UW-Superior's short-term effect on income and employment on the local economy, the university provides a long-term benefit through graduates who remain in the state who will pay state and local taxes on their higher incomes throughout their lifetimes.

Wisconsin taxpayers provide approximately $16 million a year -- roughly 33 percent -- of UW-Superior's annual funding. The study shows state taxpayers earn a minimum of 4.4 percent APR on this investment through added state income taxes that UW-Superior graduates pay.

The investment benefit to state taxpayers comes even as the state is decreasing its support for the university. The state's share of taxpayer support for UW-Superior as a percent of the university's total revenues has declined from 43 percent of revenues in fiscal year 2000 to 33 percent in fiscal year 2006-2007.

As part of the economic impact study, the researchers measured the university's effect through survey questions aimed at determining how much impact local business owners feel UW-Superior has on their business and on the local business community as a whole.

Many businesses reported using UW-Superior as a resource. Two-thirds of business owners responding to the survey said they have attended an event on campus in the past three years. More than half said they have used consulting or research services available through the university.

In addition, survey responses showed that business owners in the professional; public administration; finance/insurance/real estate; and energy/utilities sectors generally attached the most importance to UW-Superior's overall role in the Superior and Douglas County economy from a standpoint of spending, building an educated workforce and providing quality-of-life advantages.

UW-Superior is Wisconsin's Leading Public Liberal Arts College, preparing students for lifelong learning and offering solid career preparation. A member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, UW-Superior offers more than 26 undergraduate academic programs as well as graduate, continuing education and distance learning programs.

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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