A study finds that the two campuses of Arkansas Tech University have an estimated annual economic impact of more than $219 million on the communities in their immediate service areas.
Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus makes an estimated annual economic impact of $18.2 million on Franklin County – 7.6% of its gross domestic product, according to the study.
Chancellor Jo Alice Blondin said, “We’ve known that Arkansas Tech-Ozark has a significant economic impact on Franklin County, but having that information quantified makes it more powerful.
“Our enrollment growth certainly translates into financial gains for area businesses.”
For the eighth consecutive year, this fall Arkansas Tech-Ozark set an enrollment record. And, for the first time in its history, the campus enrolled more than 2,000 students (2,033, an enrollment increase of 562 percent since joining the Arkansas Tech family in 2003).
In fact, the study concludes that “any financial or social policies that are good for higher education will result in economic growth for the local economy, and any policies that reduce the demand for higher education will be painful for the local economy.”
Dr. Julie Trivitt, clinical assistant professor in the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Walton College of Business, and Dr. Robert C. Brown, Arkansas Tech president and economics professor, conducted the study, utilizing standards from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the statistical data report generated by the Arkansas Tech accounting office to compile their report.
Three categories were used to estimate the economic impact of Arkansas Tech-Ozark: demand for university services, student spending and spending by visitors to the campus.
Using figures from 2002 national data on industry relationships and 2008 local industry data, Arkansas Tech-Ozark expenditures were shown to have a $10,735,950 economic impact on Franklin County. Student and visitor spending in the county totaled $7,464,923.
However, because the study made no distinction between local and non-local students, and graduates’ increased wages weren’t included – only local spending during the years students are enrolled – the student-spending statistics are likely “understated,” it says.
Also, the study says the community experiences several additional benefits as a result of having a university nearby, including a more educated and productive workforce and educational opportunities.
“Many of the advantages of a local university are improvements to the quality of life for local citizens,” it says.
The fall 2012 economic impact study by Trivitt and Brown is a follow-up to a similar report they prepared in fall 2008.
Brown said Arkansas Tech “takes an active role in promoting the economic development of our region,” adding, “However, it is our commitment to provide each student with the tools necessary to persist to graduation that will make the greatest long-term impact on the fiscal health of our region.
“An educated workforce is an integral component of attracting new industry. The degrees that are produced at Arkansas Tech today will benefit our region for generations to come.”