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May 1, 2012

USU releases report on economic impact of research

Out-of-state research funding at Utah State University creates a total economic impact of $250 million on Utah State, as well as Utah’s overall economy, according to a report released by USU’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

The report, “The Economic Impact of Utah State University Sponsored Programs on the Utah Economy,” finds that every out-of-state dollar spent on USU research ($138 million in 2011) generates an additional $0.81 in economic output, and that every USU full-time job funded by research supports an additional 1.79 jobs.

“This report confirms--and quantifies--what we already know,” said Mark McLellan, vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Utah State. “There is a significant statewide economic benefit to the research pursuits of our faculty.”

According to the report, done by Ruby Ward, Paul Jakus, and Anne Whyte from USU’s Department of Applied Economics and Lorraine Walker from the Office of the Research and Graduate Studies, most of USU’s research funding comes from out-of-state sources; this means that USU research contributes directly to economic well-being of Utahns as “outside” research dollars are expended in the state.

“USU research programs produce jobs and income for residents, and generate tax revenues, which can then be used to provide the public services needed by residents,” said Ward.

USU sponsored programs activities in 2011 were over $211 million, which is the largest portion of USU’s total budget, exceeding state appropriations and student tuition and fees. Some 65 percent of those funds came from out-of-state sources and were spent in Utah, generating economic benefit to the state. The $138 million external funding was spent in-state on payroll, purchases of goods and services, and expenditures of tuition and fees, which created additional economic benefits. The expenditures resulting from sponsored research activity at USU also produced about $22 million in tax revenues for all levels of government.

Additionally, more than 2,300 staff and faculty, 1,300 graduate students, and 1,100 undergraduate students are paid in part from USU sponsored programs. This is equivalent to over 900 full-time jobs.

“This report conservatively reveals positive economic impacts of USU research, yet this is a relatively narrow view of the benefits of research,” said McLellan. “This report does not take into account applied research conducted at USU that has or will soon result in ‘spin-off’ firms that convert research discoveries into commercially viable operations, let alone the intangible benefits associated with our investment in education and human capital.”

The full report can be found here