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Ryan Johnson, Published December 28 2012

Study: NDSU annual economic impact totals $884 million

FARGO – North Dakota State University boasts an economic impact of more than $884 million each year, according to a new analysis that also found students enjoy a high rate of return on their educational investment.

The analysis, commissioned by NDSU and conducted by Idaho-based Economic Modeling Specialists International, looked at 2010-11 academic and financial reports, employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and other studies.

EMSI Assistant Vice President of Professional Services Annike Crapuchettes said the report found a high return on investment at NDSU. Students have an average return of 14.4 percent each year for the tuition, fees and wages they give up during their education, meaning they recover the costs in 10.6 years.

She said taxpayers, too, enjoy a healthy return. The state government provided $126.5 million to the university in the 2011 fiscal year, resulting in an expected $1.03 return for each tax dollar invested over the course of students’ careers through higher taxes and avoided costs.

Crapuchettes said the overall return for state and local governments in the region shows NDSU is a strong investment.

“Taxpayers get a rate of return of around 3 percent, which is very solid considering that most government investments are not going to generate a return on investment that high,” she said.

The study found students increase their lifetime income by $5.23 for every dollar they invest in NDSU and that the average regional career midpoint income with a bachelor’s degree is $58,200, about 94 percent more than with a high school diploma.

The operations of NDSU also contribute to the regional economy, resulting in $201.2 million in annual income that includes $74.8 million from the school’s research activities.

Non-local students who attend the university generate about $25.1 million each year in added income through off-campus spending on housing, transportation and other expenses, while visitors who come to NDSU contribute about $2.9 million annually in spending while here.

The university’s total operations and additional spending it spurs amounts to $884.6 million each year – about 1.9 percent of the total regional economy.

Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said NDSU proves to be a “huge economic boon” to the region because of its impact on the community, whether through the 55-acre Research and Technology Park or boosted visibility from the football team’s nationally televised playoff game earlier this month.

Whitney said NDSU, along with the Moorhead operations of Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead, helps make this a college community that attracts investment from corporations and further boosts jobs. Along with the “human capital” of residents’ strong work ethic, he said NDSU has helped make the community what it is today.

“It makes for an incredible ingredient for success,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587