Sean Creighton
by Sean Creighton
Tue Dec 22nd 2009 at 1:01pm UTC

Campus As Economic Engine

Rusty wheel

Nowadays, you cannot talk about higher education without the conversation including economic development. Published economic impact studies indicate that campuses are major contributors to their economies. Look at these figures:

This week, the University of Dayton (UD) purchased NCR Corp.’s former world headquarters for $18 million. The location will house the university’s world-class research institute and provide space to work on projects that will stimulate commercialization, business growth, and local job creation. In a region that has endured substantial job loss, UD continues to be a vital economic engine and key contributor to the economic future of Dayton.

While these examples demonstrate major economic contributions by campuses, do they impact economic development policy for a region, state, or nation? Do such stories and economic studies influence policymakers to direct new investment in, to take David Miller’s term, campus entrepreneurship? If you have examples, please share.

Happy Holidays!

2 Responses to “Campus As Economic Engine”

  1. Barb Chamberlain Says:

    One example is the State of Washington’s Innovation Partnership Zone legislation.

    On behalf of Washington State University Spokane, where I work, I served on a work group headed up by Greater Spokane Incorporated (our combined regional Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development Council) with others in providing input during the development phase of the policy. We talked about the importance of having a defined geographic footprint within which you have a research university, entrepreneurial companies, support systems and workforce development, so that state investment is leveraged across multiple players in a place that brings together creative-economy workers, ideas and infrastructure.

    Subsequently, GSI wrote a grant application with WSU Spokane as a partner. We received $1 million and WSU Spokane put in another $800K for expansion of the campus data center to provide infrastructure essential for expanding research that can fuel commercialization.

    Background: WSU Spokane Campus Bulletin Oct. 2007 on initial funding (All 4 WSU campuses around the state named partners in IPZs); Campus Bulletin Sept. 2009 (dedication of the data center)

    We are growing as a health sciences center, with support from area legislators and civic leaders not only for what we can do to address the critical workforce shortages in the health professions, but also for what we can do to drive economic vitality through research, through our capital investment as a major developer, and through employment in family-wage jobs across the skill spectrum.

    Our next priority is expansion of the medical education already in place in Spokane to have a full four years of med school (we now have years 1-3-4) and the research that goes with it. Our economic contribution is very much at the center of the discussion.

    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane

  2. Sean Creighton Says:

    Barb, this is a solid example. Thanks for sharing. I came across this recently – which suggests more progress.

    I was hoping for more comments, examples posted here from others. Hmm. This further begs the question: what are campuses doing to drive policymakers to understand their economic impact?

    Again, appreciate the example! Happy 2010!