CU Boulder study: University system's total economic impact on state is $5.3B

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Daily Camera

May 16, 2012


The new economic impact research -- which CU touts as the most comprehensive ever -- was conducted by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at CU's Boulder campus. The data includes the statewide economic impact from the university and the individual effects on Metropolitan Statistical Areas with CU campuses.

"We took a very conservative approach, looking at the scope of university operations," said Brian Lewandowski, a CU research associate and co-author of the expenditure-based study.

CU's funding from the state has dropped from $229 million in 2003 to $147 million in 2011. If inflation and enrollment growth were factored in, Benson has said that state funding to the flagship university should be $330 million.

"I laud the university for what they're able to do with such small portions of state funding," Lewandowski said.

Highlights from the report include $2.6 million in direct spending, resulting from the work of 17,860 faculty and staff members. Salaries and benefits account for about $1.2 billion in economic activity, with $348 million for workers in the Boulder area.

CU also spent $246 million on construction projects in fiscal year 2011, giving a boost to a languishing sector that was disproportionately hit by the recession.

"The building on campus -- especially the CU-Boulder campus -- has been substantial over the past few years and it was a good boost to the construction industry at a time when jobs had been slashed," Lewandowski said.

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"Not only did the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building create jobs during construction, but it now also will provide CU with a lasting legacy by empowering people to collaborate and push boundaries of human knowledge and innovation," he said.

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The study was conducted by a team led by chief analyst Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division and senior associate dean for Academic Programs. The group worked with campus business analysts, the CU system's Office of Technology Transfer and the offices of sponsored programs, as well as those from private-sector companies.

Researchers looked at economic impacts on Colorado based upon examinations of operating expenditures, capital spending, employee salaries and benefits and construction, according to Wobbekind.

System-wide, CU enrolls 57,400 students, employs 27,483 faculty, staff and student workers.