University of Arkansas Economic Impact Swells to $2.2 Billion a Year

 The statewide economic impact of the University of Arkansas is now three times as much as it was just a decade ago.

University Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz announced the $2.2 billion in economic impact created by the university at press events on Wednesday in Little Rock and Fayetteville. Mervin Jebaraj, the director of the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research, made the $2.2 billion estimate in The Economic Impact of the University of Arkansas.

“The U of A stimulates the economy in many ways through our operations, our graduates and our work to improve lives through education, research and discovery, and service to Arkansas,” Steinmetz said. “We are proud to be Arkansas’ flagship, and I am excited to see impact of our mission continue to grow.”

The university created a sharp-looking website with many details about the economic impact.

A study made public in 2015 showed the university’s impact was near $1.2 billion in 2014, meaning the $2.2 billion in 2018 is an 83 percent increase. The impact in 2009 was $725 million.

The Center for Business and Economic Research’s newest report provides an updated view of the effects the university has on the state and region through its land-grant mission of teaching, research and service to Arkansas.

“The U of A works every day to build our state through opportunity,” said Stacy Leeds, vice chancellor for economic development. “We work with industry to find solutions, efficiencies and to develop new technology. We graduate students who feed the economy as leaders in the workforce and we grow entrepreneurs who build new companies that create more jobs for Arkansas.”

Steinmetz described the economic impact as a statement about how much the university provides Arkansas residents in a return on investment. For example, the center’s economic impact report shows that in 2018, the $166.8 million in state appropriations to the university were leveraged 13.56 times — for each dollar of state funding, the university puts $13.56 back into the state economy.

University operations and associated economic activities contributed more than $89.5 million in state and local taxes through income taxes, business taxes, property taxes and other related taxes. Additionally, student spending contributed $453.5 million to the economy.

The university’s 77,183 alumni who live in the state earn $2.7 billion in wages. The alumni paid $130 million in state income taxes, $65 million in state sales taxes and $12 million in county sales taxes. More than 82 percent of the 2018 graduating class had jobs or were accepted to graduate school and their average starting salary was $51,997.

Pictured at the top: University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz answers a reporter’s question at Wednesday’s press event in Fayetteville about the important role played by the university in the state’s economy.