STUDY SHOWS UNK HAS MAJOR IMPACT ON LOCAL AREA ECONOMY
Chancellor Doug Kristensen
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A study released today shows that the University of Nebraska at Kearney directly contributes $115 million a year to the Kearney area economy.

“Our university enjoys tremendous support from the Kearney-area community,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “This study confirms that, in return, UNK is a significant contributor to the local economy.”

UNK economist Dr. Bree Dority and Shawn Kaskie, director of the UNK Center for Rural Research and Development, conducted the study using IMPLAN software and fiscal year 2009-2010 data. In their report, the two noted: “Estimating the economic impact of UNK involves tracing the flows of spending attributable to UNK operations and activities to identify changes in output and jobs…due to this activity.”

In all, the two found university and university-related spending totaled more than $164 million, which included: UNK faculty/staff payroll and physical plant expenditures, $68.9 million; UNK student spending, $75.9 million; campus-related visitor spending, $13.6; and spending by UNK-related units (bookstores, dining services, etc.), $5.9 million.

Using IMPLAN software, an industry standard, Dr. Dority and Kaskie estimated that about 50 percent of the $164 million, or $82 million, represented direct expenditures in the Kearney area which had multiplier effects. The estimated spending multiplier was a conservative 1.41.

Dr. Dority explained the multiplier, saying, “The dollars spent in the Kearney community are subject to multiplier effects as subsequent rounds of re-spending occur. For this study, we estimated that for every $1 spent locally by UNK, an employee, a student or a visitor, another 41 cents was generated.”

Of all the categories, student spending, $75.9 million, was the largest. Student enrollment in 2009 included students from all 93 Nebraska counties, 46 countries around the world and 47 states. The estimated average amount directly spent locally per student was $6,500.

“What that means is for every student recruited to UNK, about $6,500 is going to local businesses,” Dr. Dority said. 

Direct spending by the university was $68.9 million, with the faculty and staff payroll accounting for 60 percent of that total.

“This is the money that circulated directly into the community’s economy from UNK employees’ wages and salaries,” Kaskie said. The remainder represented university expenditures for maintenance, equipment and capital outlays.  

UNK-related visitors to Kearney spent $13.6 million locally. Among the visitors included in this category were those who attended UNK Alumni Association events, out-of-town athletic teams, and those who came to Kearney to visit UNK students, faculty and staff.

“Visiting athletic teams, alone, spent nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars on food and lodging in Kearney,” Kaskie said.

Additionally, the report noted $5.9 million was spent in Kearney by UNK-related entities such as the Antelope and College Store bookstores, NU Foundation—UNK campus, UNK dining services and the UNK Alumni Association.

UNK and UNK-related organizations employed more than 1,600 full- and part-time employees in fiscal year 2009-2010. However, an estimated 730 jobs at Kearney area businesses are needed to support student and visitor spending. With an estimated employment multiplier of 1.3, the university’s overall employment impact is more than 3,000 jobs.  

“This means that one additional job is created in the local area for every three jobs directly created by UNK,” Dr. Dority said, adding that at least 9 percent of the area’s total non-farm employment is a result of UNK’s presence. 

UNK provides many additional benefits to local businesses not directly included in the study. Its students provide a large pool of part-time workers, skilled and often free interns with contemporary skills, and  service and leadership by faculty and staff.

The Dority/Kaskie study complements an economic analysis conducted last year by Economic Modeling Specialists, Int. (EMSI). The EMSI study analyzed the statewide economic and social impact of UNK and its more than 28,000 alumni who live and work in Nebraska, including the more than 6,000 UNK alumni who live in the Kearney area.

The major focus of the EMSI study was the impact that earnings of UNK graduates had in the state. Based on Nebraska data, the researchers found that the average income of a UNK graduate in the workforce at mid-point in their career ($58,400) is more than double that of a Nebraska worker with only a high school diploma ($28,100). Both the EMSI and Dority/Kaskie reports are available at www.unk.edu/impact.