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6/14/2017 11:03:00 AM
Study: ISU has $334 million impact on seven Wabash Valley counties

Sue Loughlin, Tribune-Star

Indiana State University boosted the local economy by $334 million and created or supported 4 percent of all jobs in several Wabash Valley counties, according to a recent economic impact analysis.

The university “is a significant pillar of economic development and economic growth,” said Brian Points of Thomas P. Miller and Associates, which recently presented preliminary findings on ISU’s economic impact, both on the state and ISU service area that includes five Indiana counties and two Illinois counties.

Points, the firm’s director of research, said that statewide, “ISU is responsible for over 4,500 jobs created due to the activities of the institution. That translates into $172 million in earnings for citizens of the state.” Total economic impact [output] is estimated at $411 million, he said.

For the seven-county ISU service area, the university created or supported 4,314 jobs with earnings of $144 million and a total economic impact of $334.5 million.

The final report is expected next month. Points said final numbers are expected to be significantly higher in terms of overall economic impact, as preliminary numbers were “too conservative” when looking at procurement and overestimated out-of-region spending.

ISU’s overall economic impact could increase by as much as $60 million, Points said.

The report indicates that in fiscal year 2016, the university employed 2,400 individuals, including full- and part-time staff, but excluding students employed in work-study and assistantships. Spending additions to the state economy included $182.7 million from Indiana State, $37.8 million from Indiana State students, $51 million from Indiana State employees and $1.4 million from visitors.

Reacting to the study, Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said the report shows “Indiana State University is obviously a major contributor to our local area economy. As one of our community’s largest employers, the positive economic impact that the institution brings to our area is enormous. We are very fortunate to have four major institutions of higher education in our community. We tout this fact in regard to our business attraction efforts at every opportunity.”

Jerry Conover, a professor of marketing at Indiana University, said many universities undertake such studies with the hope they will generate “some good PR” and educate students, taxpayers and legislators on the value of dollars invested in those institutions.

“If state legislators appreciate that money spent on a university as a slice of the state budget gets recirculated in the state and creates more jobs and generates more tax revenue,” they will recognize the economic value beyond the initial state investment in those universities, said Conover, who is director of the IU Indiana Business Research Center, part of the Kelley School of Business.

The numbers included in an Indiana State news release “are not unreasonable” given the size of the university in terms of numbers of employees and student enrollment, Conover said.

Greg Goode, ISU’s executive director of government relations, said the university is “very grateful” for the state funding it receives and “we work really hard to try and earn it.” That state investment enables the university to carry out its educational mission, and it provides a value-added benefit by spurring the economy of the region and state, he said.

In its final report, Points said the Indianapolis-based consulting and management firm will make recommendations on how the university can increase economic development in the region, including encouraging renovation of Indiana State’s Hulman Center. The center, a 10,200-seat multi-purpose arena opened in 1973, generated roughly $17 million in annual state impact, according to the university’s 2014 Hulman Center Report.

The study was initiated by Indiana State University’s Division of University Engagement and the Business Engagement Center.

Indiana State commissioned a similar study, the 2012 Economic Impact Report, although those results are not directly comparable to the 2016 preliminary findings because of changes in methodology.

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