Study shows UIC makes $4 billion impact on State of Illinois economy
August 7, 2015
The University of Illinois at Chicago improves the State of Illinois economy by a total of $4 billion per year, making it an economic force for the region.

The University of Illinois at Chicago improves the State of Illinois economy by a total of $4 billion per year, making it an economic force for the region.

By Mary Voelker

A recently released University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) study found the institution pumped more than $4 billion into the State of Illinois economy in fiscal 2013. State, local, and university officials said the study verifies that UIC is and has been an economic force for the region, not just an academic center.

“As Chicago’s largest university, we know that UIC has made significant contributions to the city and state, but this is the first time that we have measured the impact,” said Michael D. Amiridis, UIC chancellor.

“The study confirms that UIC is a substantial economic engine for Illinois,” Amiridis continued. “Whether it’s the education we afford to our students and their subsequent contributions to the city and state economy, the jobs we provide on campus, the amount of taxes our employees pay to local and state government, the health care we provide to communities, or the innovative technologies and businesses we help to create, the contributions of UIC are great.”

The study’s findings show UIC contributes substantially to the Chicago region’s economy: wages and benefits totaling $1.2 billion; students and staff paid $99 million in state and local taxes; nearly $3 billion of higher earnings by graduates who work and live in Illinois; and $803 million paid to contractors, most of them Illinois-based businesses.

Another study by America’s Urban Campus, a consortium of higher learning institutions, states that Chicago area universities generate a total of $10.8 billion. The UIC study noted that UIC alone generates $4 billion.

‘Dramatic impact’
“I think the study speaks for itself,” said Michael Pagano, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Its Center for Urban Economic Development conducted the study. “The impact of the University of Illinois at Chicago on the state’s economy is pretty dramatic.”

The study was designed to see just how the university contributed to the state’s economy, Pagano said.

“It’s not a simple return on investment that can be measured in a day or a month,” he added. “It’s a very comprehensive set of data we collected,” he added.

“Data came from all over the place,” including from the state, the university, and local governments. Pagano noted the study’s intent was “informational” and that no one had done a similar analysis before this.

The center’s researchers measured UIC’s broad impact due to UIC’s educating Illinois residents; its direct contribution through employment and to the tax base; and other campus endeavors that advance economic development or equity. Economic impact refers to the added economic value made possible by virtue of UIC’s existence—the number of jobs it created, the value of the goods and services it generated, the amount by which its employees were compensated, and the amount of state and local taxes those employees paid in fiscal 2013.

UIC has 28,000 students and a nearly $2 billion budget, more than 13,000 faculty and staff, and 15 academic colleges that include the nation’s largest medical school. UIC also operates the state’s only comprehensive health sciences center, along with a network of federally qualified clinics and regional health sciences campuses in Peoria and Rockford. In fiscal 2013, UIC granted degrees to more than 3,800 undergraduates, 2,500 graduates, and 600 professional students, the study said.

Danielle Liebowitz, 22, of Chicago, who just graduated from UIC, said the university’s grants, scholarships, and loans made a huge difference in her ability to afford her education.

“For each year, tuition and fees would have been between $20,000 to $25,000 a year,” she said. “My tab never exceeded $5,000 a year. It made a huge difference.”

She said when she learned how much in aid she was receiving, she breathed a “huge sigh of relief.”

Important to health care
Among health care professionals practicing in Illinois, UIC estimates it graduates 17% of the physicians, 44% of the dentists, 33% of the pharmacists, and 5% of the nurses, the study said. Overall, about 70% of UIC graduates remain in Illinois after graduating, enhancing the state’s economy. The university also attracts international and out-of-state residents, many of who remain in Illinois, the study pointed out.

“The report I think underscores the value of the University of Illinois at Chicago,” said Steve Brown, press secretary to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

The study brings an important focus on the fact the institution is more than academics, research, and degrees, Brown added. UIC’s economic benefits also include $139 million in grants and scholarships to students, much of which is need based, according to the university’s study.

“UIC is an important asset to Chicago and the state, and this report gives us a better understanding of how higher education can be an economic engine in Illinois,” said Catherine Kelly, press secretary to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

In the area of healthcare, the study found the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences system provided $28 million in charity care in 2013.

“The UIC College of Dentistry in Fiscal Year 2015, for example, provided more than $10.5 million in uncompensated care for the citizens of Chicago and Northern Illinois,” said Dr. Clark Stanford, dean of the College. “We have a tremendous impact on the region because we are its oral healthcare safety net.”

In the area of research and development, the study concluded UIC conducted $267 millionof sponsored research during fiscal 2013, including $228 million funded by the federal government In addition, UIC’s Office of Technology Management led 24 patents to issuance and generated more than $20 million in royalties and fees in fiscal 2013.

Allan Feinerman, associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at UIC, has been working on a project that would result in lower energy bills for residences and businesses, freeing up money that could boost the economy.

“People won’t have to spend as much on heating and cooling bills,” he said. Not only is the university supporting his research, which also is backed by the National Science Foundation, but UIC is working on ways to commercialize his invention.

“As a former alderman whose ward bordered the University of Chicago, I am very aware of the importance that major educational institutions like the University of Illinois at Chicago can play in fostering economic development,” said Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle.

Innovation and research
“First, they foster innovation and research that can greatly benefit the local economy,” Preckwinkle added. “Second, they attract talent to the region in the form of faculty, students, and related professionals. They are major employers. And finally, their presence can be catalytic in developing and redeveloping their respective communities.”

“This study underscores the importance that a world class institution can have on a regional economy,” Preckwinkle said. “UIC is a major economic
asset and an engaged anchor institution. I am grateful for UIC’s participation in some of the county’s major initiatives including the Council of Economic Advisors and the Metro Metal Consortium.”

The Center for Urban Economic Development conducts research, policy analysis, and evaluation on urban and regional economic issues. For more information, call (312) 996-7194 or log on to www.urbaneconomy.org.