BSU found to have $150 million impact on local economy

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji State University adds an estimated $150 million per year in local economic activity and is directly responsible for more than 2,100 jobs in the Bemidji community and surrounding area, as determined by an economic impact study recently completed by St. Paul, Minn.-based Wilder Research.

“With Bemidji State University having an estimated economic impact of more than $150 million per year on our local economy, it could be said that as the vibrancy and vitality of Bemidji State goes, so goes the vibrancy and vitality of Bemidji and the surrounding area,” BSU President Dr. Jon E. Quistgaard said. “A university serves a unique role as both an academic and economic engine for its surrounding region, and Bemidji State University continues to be a vital component of Bemidji’s reputation as the community of choice in northern Minnesota.”

According to the study, a four-year college has a measurable impact on a local economy in several ways:

• Direct spending by the college itself, including funds spent for wages and salaries, contracted services, supplies, repairs, etc.

• Spending by students, many of whom may come from outside the local area

• Spending by visitors who come to the University for events or to visit family

• BSU’s multi-faceted impact on the local labor market was quantified by its employment of local residents, jobs created due to spending by the college, its students and visitors, students working part-time while in school, and students who remain in the area after graduation

Spending by the University, its students or visitors is not a one-time event, but plays a role in the local economy by becoming income for another person, which is then in turn re-spent. This formula leads to an estimated total economic impact of Bemidji State University on the local economy of $150,394,412.

BSU was found to have an impact of $38.75 million due to direct spending by the University, $39.58 million in spending by its students and $4.08 million in spending by its visitors, for a total of $82.41 million. The multiplier then brought the final estimate of $150.39 million of spending impact by the University on the local economy.

Through similar multiplier analysis, Wilder Research determined the local labor market benefits from of 2,105 jobs that would not exist if not for the presence of Bemidji State University. The University brings jobs to the local labor market directly, through its employment of faculty and staff, and indirectly as its spending and the spending of its students and visitors lead to additional jobs created in the community to support that spending.

BSU also impacts the local labor market by adding students to the workforce who work part-time while attending classes. Of BSU’s full-time students in 2005-06, 75 percent were found to work an average of 21.1 hours per week in local businesses, while a larger percentage of its part-time students – 88 percent – contributed an average of 34.7 hours per week to the local labor force. Those student workers in the local labor force worked enough hours to contribute 2,428 full-time equivalent jobs to the local economy.

Wilder Research also found that 46 percent of students surveyed indicated a preference to remain in the Bemidji area following graduation. This will lead to further positive impact on the local economy in the future by giving the Bemidji area access to a pool of skilled college graduates which will enhance the productivity of the local workforce and profitability of local enterprises.

About Wilder Research
Wilder Research is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit research and evaluation groups dedicated to practical research in the field of human services. From its offices in Saint Paul, Minn., Wilder Research works with more than 100 organizations each year to study the effectiveness of their services and to understand trends and issues that affect their work.
Wilder Research is part of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, a nonprofit health and human services organization that has served the greater Saint Paul area since 1906. It operate dozens of programs that help children succeed in school, older adults remain independent, troubled youth create healthy futures, and individuals and families maintain long-term housing.