Research Examines Operations, Student and Employee Spending
A comprehensive study looking at the economic impact of Frostburg State University’s operations, employees and students on the state of Maryland and its immediate region determined that FSU has an impact conservatively estimated to be $173 million across Maryland, $121 million in Allegany County alone.
The study examined both the direct and induced impacts of money spent by students and employees, as well as purchases made by the institution within the local and regional economy. A follow-up the study is tentatively planned to estimate the impact of capital costs, such as from construction projects, and of visitors who come to Western Maryland because of FSU activities.
“For every dollar received from the state’s General Fund, FSU puts more than $4 into the regional economy of Western Maryland, providing a much-needed boost to these communities,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter. “This economic impact study is an incredibly important source of data that will assist us in strengthening our relationships with our community partners. We are proud to work with them in helping our area succeed, and we value the collective efforts we are building together.”
Among the specific findings, based on the state appropriation to FSU of $31.6 million in fiscal 2012, FSU generates an annual “return” on the state’s investment of nearly 450 percent.
Launched in April 2012 with the aim of taking an economic “snapshot” based on a model standardized by the American Council on Education, the study surveyed students, faculty and staff on their spending locally and outside the region, not counting what students paid to the University for tuition, room and board and related expenses.
The study examined purchases FSU made as part of its operations. Businesses that were members of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce were surveyed on their employment of alumni and students, including their attitudes about the value of that pool of potential employees, as well as the impact of changes in FSU’s enrollment and access to its faculty’s expertise on their businesses.
Total annual expenditures reported by FSU students are estimated to be $55.7 million, of which 80 percent, or $44.7 million, is estimated to occur within Allegany County itself. Faculty and staff reported spending $32.1 million, with 75 percent, or $23.7 million, spent within Allegany County. Employees spend an average of $2,845 per month, with housing, food, beverage and automobile expenses topping the list of monthly expenses. For students, average monthly spending was $1,289. with housing topping this list as well, followed by food and transportation.
The University itself spent $100.9 million, 60 percent of which covered employee salaries and benefits. University spending in the form of purchases of goods and services from Maryland vendors in fiscal 2012 amounted to $25 million, 42 percent of which was spent in Allegany County.
FSU is the second largest employer in Allegany County. The University’s workforce consisted of 939 full- and part-time employees (369 faculty and 570 staff) in fiscal 2012. This represents 2.7 percent of the total civilian labor force in Allegany County.
FSU can be credited for generating additional jobs for businesses and service organizations. Estimated expenditures made by students, faculty and staff, and the University support approximately 1,685 jobs in the state of Maryland, 1,150 of which are within Allegany County.
The University has a role in raising the standard of living in Allegany County, both in terms of average salary and average educational attainment. Salaries and benefits paid to FSU employees amount to $53,472,827, translating to a gross average annual income of $56,947 per employee that far exceeds the Allegany County median annual household income of $39,408. In addition, 80 percent of the full-time faculty members hold doctorates or other terminal degrees In their fields, representing the most educationally advanced segment of the region’s population.
FSU employees overwhelmingly make the Western Maryland region their home, with 79 percent living in Allegany County, and most of the rest, 12 percent, residing in Garrett County or adjacent West Virginia or Pennsylvania counties.
Forty percent of the businesses report employing between one and four University alumni, with another 10 percent reporting hiring between five and nine alumni. Service, healthcare, retail and education sectors offer the most abundant employment opportunities for the University’s graduates.
Respondents noted less tangible benefits to the University’s presence as well, indicating that FSU renders Frostburg a safe, educated and diverse community with many opportunities for cultural enrichment.
To read the entire study, visit tinyurl.com/FSUEconImpact or view the executive summary here: tinyurl.com/FSUEconImpactSum.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.