The University of Texas at Tyler adds value to this region in many ways.
We produce a highly trained and well-educated workforce for East Texas. We attract tens of thousands of visitors each year who attend performing arts events, distinguished lectures and academic contests as well as athletic competitions, championship playoff games, commencement ceremonies and a myriad of other events.
UT Tyler, in so many ways, also has a significant impact on the economy of Tyler and of this entire region! Every dollar spent here goes back into the local economy, encouraging the growth of business and creating a demand for services around East Texas. In fact, the added economic value from UT Tyler accounts for a full 1% of the GNP for the entire region—or more than 6,000 full-time jobs.
Besides being a university president, I am an economist. So it is no surprise that I find a recent study done on the economic impact of UT Tyler both intriguing and eye-opening.
I have always said, and past studies have shown, that this university is a key factor in the growth and economic well-being of this region. However, this most recent study—conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) as part of a look by the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors into the impact of each university in Texas—takes the best measurement I have seen of UT Tyler’s effect on this region’s economy.
EMSI’s study looks at the impact of every dollar spent for university operations, student living and educational expenses, and research. It also looks at what visitors to the university spend each year and also determines how much impact the increased earnings of our alumni have on the region.
EMSI’s 80-page report shows that UT Tyler spending creates the equivalent of 6,035 jobs in this region each year. In case you’re wondering, we employ between 600 and 650 full-time employees. The rest of those jobs are created primarily by the spending potential of UT Tyler employees, visitors and students.
For one example, a row of restaurants has opened across the street from our campus. The location of those businesses is directly related to the presence of the university. I expect that more businesses will move nearby as UT Tyler continues to grow.
But that obvious impact belies the fact that our 8,000+ students (plus faculty and staff) help support restaurants, apartments and other businesses throughout the region. Also, many of our students serve as employees at area businesses.
Here are a few highlights from the study that I found particularly interesting:
- More than $327 million in added total income is generated each year for East Texas because the university is here.
- Students who graduate from UT Tyler get a 12% annual rate of return throughout the 40+ years of their working lives for the money they spend on their education now.
- Society benefits from UT Tyler as well, since those with a university education are not only more productive workers, but also healthier, happier citizens. For every dollar spent on a UT Tyler student, society as a whole receives $8.40 because those who attend college experience lower unemployment rates, fewer divorces, reduced health care costs and lower crime rates.
- UT Tyler graduates also earn more and require fewer government services. Taxpayers receive a 16.4% rate of return for every dollar spent on the University on behalf of its students.
- UT Tyler alumni added $208.8 million in regional income in 2013. Those same students, from just one graduating class, will earn a combined $29.2 million more over the course of their careers than those who did not attend a university.
Our university also has a tremendous impact when it comes to bringing people to Tyler. In 2013, when the samples were taken to conduct the study, about 40% of students came from outside the East Texas region. In addition, 40% of our students who are from East Texas would have left the region to attend universities elsewhere if UT Tyler did not exist.
This is important because without UT Tyler the resulting “brain drain” from East Texas would continually dampen standards of living and, indeed, the long-term viability of our region.
Although the study doesn’t specifically address it, we are also responsible for attracting employees to the area. UT Tyler employs high-ability people in high-paying positions, further adding value to Tyler and to the region.
UT Tyler has a considerable impact on this region, and I expect that impact to grow substantially. We continue to have one of the highest annual growth rates among all Texas public universities—in the 8-11% range annually.
That means that UT Tyler’s spending impact for 2015 is even higher than the 2013 numbers reported in the study—and will climb to an impact of two-thirds of a billion dollars annually as UT Tyler moves to its next goal of enrolling 14,000 students.
Comprehensive universities have a positive effect on their communities, and I am proud to see that UT Tyler adds such great value to East Texas.