WMU News

WMU creates 8,500 jobs, adds $500 million to local economy

Dec. 10, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University creates nearly 8,500 jobs in Kalamazoo County and pumps almost $500 million into the local economy, results of a recent study show. That's an increase of about 1,300 jobs since 1994-95.

"We're very pleased to be able to deliver such positive news on the economic front," said Dr. Diether H. Haenicke, president of the University. "It often goes unnoticed that WMU is creating new jobs, not only at our University but throughout the county."

Haenicke made it clear that WMU does not act alone in generating its large economic impact.

"In every instance possible and at every turn, we seek to work together with our partners in business, in government and in education," he said. "Only by working together we can achieve true and lasting prosperity.

"Spending by the University, our 26,000 students and the visitors we attract has a profound impact on our business partners and the community at large, including some 4,000 local firms with whom we do business," Haenicke added.

Larry Mankin, president of the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, agreed. "It's clear that WMU is a real contributor to our economic base," he said. "WMU enables us to bring tax dollars sent to Lansing back to Kalamazoo County, where they can be put to work fueling economic growth."

According to the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, which participated in the study, WMU creates 8,462 jobs in Kalamazoo County, an increase of 1,295 jobs since 1994-95. The result of this economic infusion is an increase in personal income of $203 million and a boost in the gross regional product of $234 million.

"For each job at WMU, another one and a half jobs are created elsewhere in the community," said Dr. Bassam E. Harik, professor of economics at WMU, who worked with the Upjohn Institute and used data for 1996-97. WMU has just over 2,700 full-time faculty and staff members.

WMU's total economic impact is calculated at $494 million, an increase of $80 million or 19.3 percent since a similar study was done three years ago, according to the analysis.

Harik said the study, the fourth since 1989, probably underestimates the impact of WMU. "This study is based on conservative assumptions, leading to a probable underestimate of WMU's annual economic impact," Harik said.

"Local retailers, landlords and the operators of restaurants, department stores, laundries and automobile repair shops feel the spending power of our students, which is well over $204 million each year," Haenicke said.

"Many of these same people experience another $21.7 million in spending power brought to our community by thousands of visitors every year, who come here to visit our students and enjoy the many concerts, Broadway shows and athletic events we provide," he said.

WMU itself spent nearly $268 million, including $80.6 million for construction and renovation, making WMU one of the county's largest builders, according to the study. WMU spent another $55.5 million for supplies and services, working with more than 4,000 local vendors. The University's spending for wages and salaries was nearly $123 million.

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