UI's benefit to state economy in the billions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI's benefit to state economy in the billions

IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- In the midst of budget cuts to Iowa's regent universities, there's news of the value of these institutions.

"It's great to have an external group and validate in your heart what you thought was true and now you know that in fact you're having a very large impact on the state of Iowa,'' said UI President Sally Mason.

The University of Iowa turned to a Pittsburgh-based research firm to conduct a year-long study evaluating the economic impact of the University of Iowa's operations during the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The study reveals that the University of Iowa contributes $6 billion to Iowa's economy each year.

It means for every dollar the state gives the University of Iowa, taxpayers are seeing a greater than 1500% return.

''What this says is that this is the best investment the state of Iowa can make. It's an investment on a dollar for dollar basis, returns dollars to the state's coffers, and the county, and the municipal government,'' said Paul Umbach, president of Tripp Umbach, the firm that conducted the study.

The data also shows the university is one of the state's top employers... creating more than 50,000 jobs last year.

As the economy rebounds, officials hope this information can help assure taxpayers and elected officials that supporting higher education institutions is a necessary investment.  

''My hope is that legislators outside of our community, the Iowa City area, understand that if they reduce funding to the institution, that also has an economic impact on the state,'' said State Representative Mary Mascher, a democrat from Iowa City.

Of course officials urge, you can't measure the school's primary function - educating young people.

''I think our students come away with a world class education and they're doing great things not only in Iowa but across the country and around the world now, too,'' Mason said.

Online Reporter: Jason Epner

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