The Economic Impact of Oregon State University


ECONorthwest calculated the economic benefits of Oregon State University to the local and regional economies.

The Challenge

While it's clear institutions of higher education play a positive and important role in local and regional economies, it is a relationship that is often difficult to quantify and describe. These institutions create jobs, spend money, and conduct valuable research and innovation activites. Alumni, students, and visitors also contribute to the economy as workers and consumers. While Oregon State University, like other institutions, understands it plays a positive role in the regional and global economy, it still wanted to better understand and communicate that role.

The Results

To address this challenge, OSU asked ECONorthwest to deliver a series of reports that quantified and described some of the University's economic contributions to the local, state, and global economies. ECONorthwest delivered three reports, each addressing a different area of impact:

  • Spending by the University, students, and visitors. We analyzed the University's spending on operations and capital, as well as spending by students and visitors statewide, in Linn and Benton Counties, and several other local communities throughout Oregon. We found the University has about $2 billion in gross impacts statewide and $950 million in gross impacts in Linn and Benton Counties.
  • OSU alumni. Our survey of OSU alumni received nearly 5,000 responses. We described the results of those responses and compared them to the typical college graduate in Oregon.
    We found that the OSU respondents of the alumni survey are more likely to be employed and employed full-time and have a higher median wage than their college-educated counterparts in the U.S., Oregon, and Portland.
  • Research and innovation. We described and quantified the value of OSU's research and innovation activities.
    With the exception of Oregon Health and Sciences University, we found OSU receives more research funding and more patents than all other Oregon colleges and universities combined. We also found that every dollar invested in research at OSU generates between $1.20-$1.67 in benefits to society. OSU's research helps to generate, attract, and grow other local companies--since 1982, entrepreneurs have created 35 companies using OSU research.

As part of its IMPACT 2012 campaign, OSU held a series of talks in nearly every county in Oregon. In each of these talks, OSU presented the results of ECONorthwest's general analysis and impact to each of the counties.

In the Press

Oregon State University wants to make Bend branch campus four-year University
The Oregonian. June 1, 2012. Bill Graves.

OSU president touts university's impact in Oregon
East Oregonian. May 17, 2012. Tom Brown.

OSU pumps cash into Oregon during recession
Daily Astorian. May 2, 2012. Edward Stratton.

OSU impact on Portland economy large and varied, study says
Koin Local 6. January 23, 2012.

OSU's Ray presents study on university's economic impact
Corvallis Gazette-Times. January 20, 2012. Gail Cole.

The results are in: OSU contributes billions to economy
Corvallis Gazette-Times. January 19, 2012. Gail Cole.

Oregon State University has $2 billion economic footprint, says President Ed Ray
The Oregonian. January 18, 2012. Bill Graves.

Oregon State economic impact: $2.06 billion
Portland Business Journal. January 18, 2012. Matthew Kish.

OSU Charts Record $2.06 Billion Impact and Major Contributions to Oregon
Oregon State University (press release). January 18, 2012. Todd Simmons.

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