A study released Thursday by the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Economic Modeling Specialists, Int. shows that the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus adds $653.8 million annually to Nebraska's economy.
To arrive at that number, the study took into account $590.4 million of student productivity, plus the combined effects of spending in Nebraska each year by the university itself ($42.7 million), and by students and visitors from outside the state ($20.7 million).
"The largest and most important economic impact of UNK is, by far, the student productivity effect that stems from the annual average income differential between the 30,000 UNK graduates who live in the state and those in the Nebraska workforce whose educational attainment is only at the high school level."
"I believe Nebraskans recognize that UNK is a regional leader for education, culture, community service, and health care," said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. "This study demonstrates that we are a major economic engine, and offer a tremendous return on investment to students and taxpayers."
UNK chose EMSI to conduct the study because of their unique methodology that, while taking into account actual spending by the institution, also recognizes the even more powerful impact of the university's graduates in the Nebraska workplace.
"Rather than trying to make the university artificially look good by claiming every possible dollar, we calculate the main components and then discount them," said EMSI research economist Tim Nadreau, the study's lead author.
Though EMSI's approach to economic modeling is rather conservative by some standards, the study's researchers determined that UNK-related activities and outcomes are equal to nearly 1 percent of Nebraska's gross state product, a significant percentage given UNK's location and size.
The study was commissioned by UNK in early 2012 to help the university better understand its economic and social impact in the region, using university data, public databases, and national studies and surveys from 2010-11.
The study is available in its entirety at http://www.unk.edu/impact