When you think of the big drivers of Washington's economy, the first things that come to mind may be the state’s corporate behemoths such as Boeing, Microsoft or Amazon. But in a new report, the University of Washington is highlighting its role as an economic engine.
In the 2017-18 academic year, UW received about $360 million in state appropriations. But the university's economic impact on the state is much larger than that.
According to the report, the university had a total economic impact of more than $15.7 billion in the year that ended in June 2018. That includes direct operational spending, such as salaries paid to employees on the university’s three campuses in Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell. It also accounts for economic ripple effects coming from the university, its employees and students.
One reason is that the university ranks among the top higher-education institutions for securing federal research grants. It's also helping startup companies get off the ground based on research conducted by faculty and students.
“A lot of (that research) has some commercial potential,” said Randy Hodgins, vice president of external affairs for the university.
The university helps faculty and students create businesses out of their ideas and file for patents. One company that grew out of the University of Washington is VICIS, which has created a new design for football helmets aimed at reducing concussions. The university also has helped launch biotech and artificial-intelligence startups.
The report also breaks out the economic impact of UW’s campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Both were founded in 1990 and have grown substantially. They each have almost 6,000 students.
Hodgins said UW Tacoma and UW Bothell originally started out as locations more geared toward students transferring from community colleges, but that's changing.
“The fastest growing part of both campuses are people who want to come as freshmen, so both of them are trying to figure out how to build more residence halls to accommodate the demand,” Hodgins said. “So it’s been interesting to watch their evolution.”
The report says UW Tacoma and UW Bothell each had a total economic impact of more than $300 million last year.