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North Dakota University System's economic impact tops $5 billion, report says

BISMARCK — Combined North Dakota University System and student spending was almost $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2017, creating a total economic impact of $5.3 billion, according to a new report from the North Dakota State University department of agribusiness and applied economics.

The report, compiled by two NDSU professors, is similar to studies conducted in reports going back to 1999. The report breaks down the various economic impacts both on a state and local level. It also includes the economic impacts of both direct and secondary expenditures.

“As the report illustrates, higher education is vital to North Dakota’s economy,” NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott said in a statement. “Higher education invests in knowledge and promoting the overall growth of knowledge for young people and adult learners. Higher education directly influences these learners as well as the workplaces that hire these workers. We work toward the betterment of the entire state.”

The university system’s colleges, universities and supporting centers and facilities “act as centers for local and regional economic development,” the authors stated.

The system’s universities “provide the state with an educated workforce ready to meet the challenges of an ever-changing work environment,” the authors said, adding the universities also provide outreach and continuing education for North Dakota’s residents and businesses.

“In addition to providing education, the state’s universities and colleges create and support jobs and employment opportunities through research, extension and teaching activities. All these important services and products provide economic benefits, which enhance local and state economies,” the report stated.

Overall enrollment at the NDUS’s 11 colleges and universities was 37,397 full-time-equivalent students for Fall Semester 2017.

NDUS student living expenses were estimated to be $455 million for fiscal year 2017, the report stated. The economic impact of those student living expenses resulted in around $1.1 billion in total business activity, which included $511 million in additional retail trade activity, the report stated.

The system also employed more than 10,700 people full time during the 2017 fiscal year.