President Bruce Benson
Our fundamental activities at the University of Colorado are the teaching and learning that prepare our students for successful futures and the research that improves lives and tackles society's significant issues. This focus dates to our founding in 1876.
That focus has not changed and neither has one of the positive offshoots of CU's activities. We are a stable, substantial economic driver for our state. The Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business on our Boulder campus recently released a report that quantifies the economic impact of CU on the state and the communities that are home to our campuses.
The study found that CU's education and research expenditures have a $5.3 billion economic impact on Colorado annually. By contrast, the state's ski industry has an estimated economic impact of $2.6 billion annually.
The report, led by respected economist Rich Wobbekind and his team, found that at the crossroads of our educational and research activities is an economic engine that has helped sustain Colorado for generations, particularly during the recent economic difficulties. They examined operating expenditures, capital expenditures, employee salaries and benefits, and construction expenditures.
We employ thousands of workers (27,500 faculty, staff and student workers, making us Colorado's third-largest employer, and another 16,000 indirectly through our demand for goods and services, as well as construction), provide a highly skilled workforce, attract hundreds of millions in mostly federal research funding, buy from local vendors, and serve as a magnet for industry. Recently, Arrow Electronics and GE Solar cited proximity to CU among their reasons for relocating to Colorado.
CU is a job creator. In addition to the workforce on our campuses and the workforce we develop for Colorado and beyond, technology that emerges from CU research laboratories has led to the creation of 114 companies, 85 of which continue to operate in Colorado. In the past fiscal year alone, 11 new companies were formed. They are typically high tech, ranging from biotechnology to clean energy.
We are also collaborators, working with our colleague universities, businesses and federal laboratories in efforts that make Colorado a hub for economic clusters such as medical devices and diagnostics, aerospace (an economy in which Colorado ranks second nationally), energy technology and other high-tech sectors. CU alone attracted some $790 million in research funding last year. While the vast majority of those dollars are earmarked for specific projects, the impact ripples throughout the Colorado economy.
Construction is another sector where CU drives the economy. In fiscal year 2011, we spent $246 million in construction projects (some are multi-year projects), which had an economic benefit of $478 million in an industry particularly hard hit by the recession. Funding for the projects came largely from private donations and bond financing, since state funding for construction has all but dried up.
You may have seen studies in recent years showing CU's economic impact at more than $6 billion, but the figures in the Business Research Division's analysis are intentionally conservative and the methodology is more accurate. The bottom line is CU is a substantial part of the fabric of our state, economically and in many other ways.
The report is thorough in its assessment, yet some of our significant benefits cannot be quantified. It does not address the contributions of the nearly 200,000 CU alumni who live and work in the state. It doesn't account for the intangible benefits CU brings, such as community service and outreach by our students, faculty and staff.
What it does is show a snapshot of a university that makes a difference in the lives of the people of Colorado and beyond. We have done so since 1876 and we intend to continue to advance the community, health and culture of our state and beyond.
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