For the Cumberland Times-News
FROSTBURG — A study conducted by Frostburg State University has determined that in fiscal 2012, the university had an economic impact estimated to be at least $173 million across Maryland, with $121 million of that amount in Allegany County.
The comprehensive study looked at the economic impact of FSU’s operations, employees and students, according to a news release from the university. It was conducted by Sudhir Singh, associate dean of the College of Business, and Rob Smith, assistant vice president of planning, assessment and institutional research.
The study examined both the direct and indirect impacts of money spent by students and employees, as well as purchases made by the institution. A follow-up study is planned to estimate the impact of capital costs, such as from construction projects, and of visitors who come to Western Maryland because of FSU activities.
“For every dollar received from the state’s general fund, FSU puts more than $4 into the regional economy of Western Maryland, providing a much-needed boost to these communities,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter. “This economic impact study is an incredibly important source of data that will assist us in strengthening our relationships with our community partners. We are proud to work with them in helping our area succeed, and we value the collective efforts we are building together.”
Based on the state appropriation to FSU of $31.6 million in fiscal 2012, FSU generates an annual “return” on the state’s investment of nearly 450 percent.
Launched in April with the aim of taking an economic “snapshot” based on a model standardized by the American Council on Education, the study surveyed students, faculty and staff on their spending locally and outside the region, not counting what students paid to the university for tuition, room and board, and related expenses.
The study examined purchases FSU made as part of its operations. Members of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce were surveyed on their employment of alumni and students and access to faculty expertise.
Total annual expenditures reported by FSU students are estimated to be $55.7 million, of which 80 percent, or $44.7 million, is estimated to occur within Allegany County. Faculty and staff reported spending $32.1 million, with 75 percent spent within the county. Employees spend an average of $2,845 per month, with housing, food, beverage and automobile expenses topping the list of monthly expenses. Average monthly spending for students was $1,289, with housing topping the list, followed by food and transportation.
The university itself spent $100.9 million, 60 percent of which covered employee salaries and benefits. Of the $25 million spent on goods and services from Maryland vendors in fiscal 2012, 42 percent was in Allegany County.
FSU is the second largest employer in the county, with 939 full- and part-time employees (369 faculty and 570 staff). This represents 2.7 percent of the total civilian labor force in the county.
Estimated expenditures made by students, faculty and staff, and the university support approximately 1,685 jobs in the state, 1,150 of which are within Allegany County.
Salaries and benefits paid to FSU employees amount to $53,472,827, translating to a gross average annual income of $56,947 per employee that far exceeds the county’s median annual household income of $39,408. In addition, 80 percent of the full-time faculty members hold doctorates or other terminal degrees in their fields, representing the most educationally advanced segment of the region’s population.
With 79 percent of FSU employees living in Allegany County, an additional 12 percent reside in Garrett County or adjacent West Virginia or Pennsylvania counties.
Forty percent of the businesses surveyed report employing between one and four university alumni, with another 10 percent hiring between five and nine alumni. Service, health care, retail and education sectors offer the most abundant employment opportunities for FSU graduates.
To read the study or a summary, go to tinyurl.com/FSU EconImpact or tinyurl.com/ FSU EconImpactSum.