By Sidney Reilly
In news that Oregon State University was understandably excited to trumpet to the world, a new study released last week shows the school accounted for $2.371 billion added to the global economy. This value addition came through a mix of operations and products, hiring and the purchasing power they put in the hands of their employees. The numbers were provided by ECONorthwest, a consulting firm that crunched data from OSU expenditures, enrollment figures, tourism data, and the results of a separate study on OSU travel impacts.
According to the study, OSU’s impact in Linn and Benton counties alone was $1.334 billion, further deflating the argument that OSU is not worth the taxes they don’t pay on property. This may be at the heart of the study to begin with, as different sources make the claim that OSU’s property tax pass is actually worse for the State, and the county in particular, than the economic benefits they bring. While it’s hard to quantify, the numbers this study bandies about certainly suggest it’s a fair trade.
The numbers don’t take into account other factors which can be incredibly difficult to quantify, such as the effects of OSU research on the Oregon economy. The massive amounts of agricultural research and support the university gives to Oregon farmers are a good example of these gains, as it’s not possible to put a number on the benefits, though they are undoubtedly profound.
Besides the high dollar amount in terms of economic impact, the numbers represent 31,660 Oregon jobs and a 15% increase on the 2011 numbers. The outlook for continued growth is stronger than ever, and OSU’s expansion plans suggest the next round of numbers could be even more impressive.