UW System has $24 billion impact in Wisconsin, study shows

The UW System had a $24 billion impact in Wisconsin last year, representing a 23-to-1 return on investment for the state, according to a recent economic study.

The study, prepared by NorthStar Analytics on behalf of UW System, found that impact made up 7.7 percent of the state’s total economic activity in fiscal year 2016-2017.

Activities by UW System campuses and organizations create or support about 167,000 jobs each year, or one out of every 20 worker in the state, the report shows. And UW System’s economic activity brings in $1.1 billion in state and local taxes every year.

UW Hospitals and Clinics, which is linked to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, accounted for $3.5 billion of the UW System’s total economic impact in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Another contributor to UW System’s impact is startup companies, often founded by researchers and professors working at the system. UW-Madison makes up the majority, as 350 startups came from UW-Madison last year and made up $3 billion of the UW System’s impact. Startups and other businesses at UW Research Park in Madison contributed $1.1 billion.

“The biggest change since 2002 is the economic development activity the UW System is now involved in,” said David Ward, CEO of NorthStar Analytics. “There is very significant startup activity, and it’s beginning to spread across the state.”

Student spending made up a further $2.2 billion of the system’s total impact, and visitor spending reached nearly $2 billion.

Of the system’s total impact, the report shows 75 percent of that goes directly to private companies. Broken down further, it shows $1.5 billion in annual economic impact each goes to real estate, hospitals and computer services.

Seven sectors get annual economic benefits between $220 million and $800 million: full-service restaurants, owner-occupied dwellings, construction, insurance carriers, wholesale trade, employment services, and electric power generation.

This study from NorthStar Analytics updates measures included in a similar 2002 report, which looked at impact from UW System campuses, related organizations and activity, startups and other contributors.

“However, the economic impacts not included within the scope of this study likely far outweigh those reported here,” report authors said, listing the state’s workforce/talent base, its tax base, and research and innovation.

Ward will present the findings of this study to the Board of Regents at its next Madison meeting on Thursday.

See the full report here: http://www.wisconsin.edu/economic-development/download/Econ-Impact-web.pdf