University of Arizona pitching in to state’s economy

In a recent report from Scottsdale-based economic research firm Elliott D. Pollack & Company, numbers show that the University of Arizona is rising higher as an economic juggernaut for the state. The study, commissioned by the Arizona Board of Regents and co-researched by economic firm The Maguire Company, shows the southern Arizona university is boosting everything from jobs to local tourism to business investment.

During fiscal year 2017, the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University were responsible for generating a $11.1 billion economic impact in the state. A huge part of that came in the form of research enterprise. Spending in that area of the University of Arizona topped out at $622 million, which is about one-third of the total spending from the university.

Within that research umbrella is UA’s work in cancer research, NASA, and transportation. In fact, the UA is part of a multicampus program that received a five-year U.S. Department of Transportation grant worth about $16 million to look into new ways to change education and outreach around transportation. Altogether, the university spends money on things like equipment, supplies and contracts to further its projects, which return about $1 billion in economic output to the state.

With school just starting up again, it also helps to look at the data around student impact. From housing and utilities to part-time jobs and late-night pizza runs, student living as a whole generates about $780 million in economic output, supporting 5,200 jobs. The UA student population rivals that of a growing town, as 38,000 students are enrolled in programs, which in turn translates into major dollars.

And while the numbers alone sound great, such as $11.1 billion in economic impact and the support of 84,000 jobs, there’s more beyond just dollars and cents as the region’s tech workforce and entrepreneurial development incubators are inspiring more financial support and investments.

“It’s always a little hazy to look into a crystal ball, but many people think we’re becoming an information- or knowledge-based economy, and to compete in that you need the right kind of cutting-edge education,” said Stanley Reynolds, an Eller professor of economics and Eller College vice dean for faculty and research at UA. “So a university like UA is going to be critical for a community to develop and compete and give people prospects in an emerging economy.”

Another portion of the college’s economic influence comes in the form of travel and tourism. Parents coming to visit, traveling to see a football game, staying overnight for graduation, and so on — all these types of trips and more add to the tens of millions of dollars generated. According to research, the university draws in around 135,000 out-of-state visitors throughout the year, pumping about $60.5 million into the economy while also supporting 699 jobs.

Nick Esquer

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