Alabama State economic impact approaches $1B annually study says
The results of a one-year study which measured the economic impact of Alabama State University showed that the school has a nearly $1 billion impact on its region.
The study, conducted by the Washington Economics Group, of Coral Gables, Fla., shows that the University's operations and related activities have a $901 million impact on the state's economy and in particular the economy of the three counties that comprise the River Region. The study further reported that the University “is a powerful catalyst of economic development for the state and for the River Region in particular.”
"We want to share this news because our long-term development secures a bright future for our children and grandchildren," ASU President William H. Harris said. "We want others to know the importance of the University so they will become partners with us. These numbers reinforce the importance of Vision 2020."
In addition to the annual $901 million state-wide impact, the University generates 10,500 jobs.
"Wow!" Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange exclaimed. "We always knew the University had a big impact. Now we know how big." He compared the University's impact to the military's $1.4 billion and Hyundai's $1.5 billion impact.
The study conducted during 2010-2011 attributed the economic contributions to three significant University activities.
The most visible is the University itself as a business — $150 million annual operating budget, $250 million in campus construction projects, and a consumer that purchases millions a year from local businesses. The University employs about 1,100 full-time and part-time employees, including 317 faculty members. These University operations result in an impact of $341 million and include areas such as the creation of 3,931 jobs, labor income of $128 million, and state and local tax revenues of $35 million.
The second group of activities describes the impact of 5,600 students who attend the University and live in Montgomery, visitors to campus, and alumni events and tourists on campus. These expenditures result in a total impact of $53 million and generate 589 jobs, $15 million in income, and $8 million in state and local tax revenues.
The third category is the contribution alumni make to the economy. Graduates bring enhanced skills and knowledge to the workforce, make increased earnings, and enhance the economic development environment for new and existing businesses. This increased earning power of ASU alumni living in the state results in an impact of $507 million and includes 5,981 jobs, $168 million in labor income, and $75 million in state and local revenues.
Specific to the River Region, the University generates $885 million for the three-county area surrounding the City of Montgomery, including 9,714 jobs, $314 million in labor income and $111 million in state and local taxes.
In addition to these direct economic impacts generated by the University, ASU also provides significant intangible benefits to Alabama and especially to the River Region.
"It promotes a reputation of having a vibrant business climate, contributing highly educated human resources to the state’s workforce and supporting targeted industries in the state," the report summarizes. "In essence, the University’s presence is a positive force in the attraction of new businesses and the retention of existing ones."
“Alabama State University is a major part of the engine that drives the local and state economy,” said Harris. “There is no doubt that we have a big vision, but we also have an even bigger impact.”
Referring to the University's location near the center of the city, Mayor Strange described how the University and city council were working together to build one community — not two communities divided by an interstate.
"We here in Montgomery are releasing the brake on our potential," he said. "We are doing smart things, the right things to build a city and a University we are all proud of. The City of Montgomery wants to be part of your transformation and help the University have the academic and research programs that will enhance the city."
"We are moving forward," said Dean, who also is chair of the ASU Board of Trustees. "We are not stopping. We want to compete with the major universities in this country."