UW-Stout News Story

Study shows university economic impact nearly $300 million a year

October 3, 2012

University of Wisconsin-Stout contributes almost $300 million a year to the Chippewa Valley economy, including about $179 million from the skills students bring to businesses and industries after graduating, according to a new economic impact study.

The study by Economic Modeling Specialists International determined that UW-Stout contributes about $294 million annually to the Chippewa Valley economy, or about 2.4 percent of the economic output. The accumulated credit hours achieved by former UW-Stout students the past 30 years translate to $178.7 million in added regional income each year due to the higher earnings of students and increased output of businesses.

UW-Stout logo“This is the first time we have scientifically measured the value of the skills our students receive while at UW-Stout and the economic benefit those skills have for our economy,” said Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen. “This study shows that we are a good deal for our students, as well as for the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin.”

The report’s findings will be included in Sorensen’s presentation Thursday morning to the UW System Board of Regents, which meets at 9 a.m. in the UW-Stout Memorial Student Center. The report covers the economic impact in the counties of Eau Claire, Chippewa, Dunn, Barron, Polk, St. Croix and Pierce counties.

The report found that UW-Stout operations generated $104 million for the economy, while the spending of nonlocal students added another $8.3 million. Visitor spending contributed $2.7 million. The amounts, when added to the income generated by UW-Stout graduates, make up the $293.7 million in total economic activity.

The study also concluded that a UW-Stout student can expect to earn $23,100 more a year than a high school graduate, as well as $14,400 more than a student with a two-year degree. For every dollar that a student spends to go to UW-Stout, he or she can expect to receive $5.50 in future income.

The study showed that students receive a 15.3 percent return on their investment in UW-Stout, which had a 9.9 year payback period.

The report indicated that for every dollar state and local taxpayers invested in UW-Stout they received $2.10 in return. The rate of return for taxpayers was 7 percent. These calculations include increased state and local tax receipts from higher incomes and reductions in state and local government spending due to lower social costs attributable to the effects of a college degree.

The report concluded: “The results of this study demonstrate that UW-Stout is a sound investment from multiple perspectives. The university enriches the lives of students and increases their lifetime incomes. It benefits taxpayers by generating increased tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reducing the demand for taxpayer-supported social services. Finally, it contributes to the vitality of both the local and state economies.”

Sorensen said the university decided to use EMSI for this study because of the reputation it has in higher education for providing conservative, accurate and credible information.

“EMSI prides itself on providing data-driven results, which is important for us at UW-Stout,” Sorensen said, referring to the fact that UW-Stout won the 2001 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. “It was clear that EMSI’s model is based on solid theory and the most up-to-date literature. Their reputation is based on accuracy and not advocacy.”

EMSI, based in Moscow, Idaho, has performed about 1,200 similar studies across the country and internationally. More information on the UW-Stout report is available here.

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