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OSU expansion a billion dollar benefit to Stillwater

Friday, April 28, 2006

Oklahoma State University generates $1.2 billion annually in the local economy — about half of Stillwater’s total economic activity — and planned expansion projects will have an additional impact of $220 million annually over the next six years.

Those are among the findings of an independent research project conducted by Austin, Texas-based Angelou Economics. The project was sponsored by the Stillwater Foundation for Progress, a nonprofit educational affiliate of the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with OSU.

The study found that while OSU employees account for 14% of all jobs in the Stillwater MSA, their wages and salaries represent 33% of total payroll. At nearly $54,000 per job, the university’s average wage is more than twice the county’s average annual wage.

“The university’s multiplier effects deliver a much higher impact on the county economy due to spending by students, employees, and visitors," said Daniel Kah, director of research for Angelou Economics.

Kah noted that while the university is a nonprofit and holds special tax status in the city and state, many taxable activities occur as a result of the university’s workforce, students, and visitors. About $7 million in local sales taxes accrue each year to city and county governments as a result of spending by these groups.

“Beyond the direct and indirect spending impact on the local community, the university positions the area for future growth in high impact industries, by providing an educated workforce and through investment in research,” Kah said.

Other findings:

  • Including the multiplier effect of university expenditures, OSU accounts for 43% of area jobs, 59% of payroll, and 24% of local sales tax revenues.
  • University workers, students, and visitors spend $129 million annually on restaurants, bars, hotels and other taxable retail sales.  This translates to $4.5 million in sales tax revenue to the City of Stillwater, and $1 million to Payne County, according to the Angelou report.
  • An estimated 680,000 visitors to OSU sports and academic events spend $47 million annually in Stillwater, with sports attendance delivering the largest impact.
  • Average student spending in the local economy is $4,300 for those living on campus, and $10,200 for off-campus residents.

“The study is helpful in understanding the impact of Stillwater’s largest employer, and how the university’s expansion will affect the economy of our city going forward," said Calvin Anthony, chairman of the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. "Even though the city has diversified over the years, Oklahoma State University continues to be the most significant driver of the local economy. Without OSU’s growth and vitality it would be hard to imagine Stillwater and Payne County experiencing the tremendous retail, development, job growth, and building expansion it currently enjoys.”

OSU has announced more than $700 million in new classroom, research, student life, and athletic facilities to be constructed over the next six to seven years.

“This study is further evidence that Oklahoma State University and the City of Stillwater is a powerful economic partnership," OSU System President and CEO David Schmidly said. "The quality of life the community of Stillwater provides OSU is an important component to attracting and keeping the most qualified faculty and staff at the university.

“OSU and Stillwater are invaluable to each other and its imperative we work together in an effort to create better opportunities for the citizens of Stillwater and improve the university’s standing on a national and international level. We will be transforming the university over the next several years and we look forward to the positive impact that growth will have on OSU and Stillwater.”

Angelou Economics is a leading economic consulting firm specializing in technology-based economic development. Its clients include some of America’s largest technology companies, local and state governments, and financial organizations.

The full report can be found on the Chamber’s website,

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