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University of Jamestown has $95 million economic impact on economy, study says

In direct spending, UJ injected over $21 million into the economy, which had an impact of over $63 million on the Jamestown economy.

block party crowd from 082521.jpg
The Community Block Party is one example of the partnership between the University of Jamestown and the community, said Emily Bivens, executive director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. The university recently released a study that said its direct spending plus estimated student discretionary spending had an economic impact of more than $95 million on Jamestown’s economy from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun file photo
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The University of Jamestown’s direct spending plus estimated student discretionary spending had an economic impact of more than $95 million on Jamestown’s economy from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, according to a study released by UJ.

“I think the results of the study shows that UJ creates positive net impact on the Jamestown community,” said Kresha Wiest, chief financial officer at UJ. “I think it is a very important thing that we have. The University of Jamestown and the contributions and the direct spending and the payroll and the students and visitors and all that is tied to the economy of Jamestown and I think it is a great thing for the area.”

The university is a great community partner, said Emily Bivens, executive director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. She said UJ is heavily involved in the Jamestown community.

“They have staff on different boards and they volunteer in different things,” she said. “They try to get their students as involved as possible in the community.”

Bivens said one example of the community’s partnership is the Community Block Party.

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“The whole reason for that event was to help welcome University of Jamestown students to the community, but it really is great exposure for all of our area businesses, all of our area organizations,” she said.

In direct spending, UJ injected over $21 million into the economy, which had an impact of over $63 million on the Jamestown economy. Institutional direct spending is what UJ has directly paid for and includes staff and faculty payroll, benefits, goods and services that the university purchases, capital projects or supplies, Wiest said.

UJ’s workforce included 82 full-time faculty, 139 full-time staff members, 133 part-time faculty and staff members and 272 student employees, the study said. The total compensation including wages and benefits to UJ’s employees was more than $15.7 million.

The university used an economic multiplier formula that was developed by North Dakota State University.

“The direct spending is tied to faculty’s salaries and benefits, staff salaries and benefits, basically the entire payroll amount,” Wiest said. “Then there is a multiplier of three applied to that spending throughout the economy of Jamestown.”

The economic multiplier formula measures how income entering the economy circulates within it across three rounds of spending. The measuring process starts with a source of income and then follows how it is spent and respent within a defined geographic area.

The study shows that the UJ students have a strong economic impact on the community as well. Student discretionary spending of more than $4.9 million had over a $14.8 million effect on the economy.

“Discretionary spending is based on data, but it is also based on an estimate,” Wiest said. “We are assuming that on average from data that we pulled that students are spending x amount within our community, whether it is eating out or shopping for supplies or gas.”

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Students also contribute to UJ’s economic impact to the community as full- and part-time members of Jamestown’s workforce, volunteering at community organizations while preparing for their careers and doing field work, internships or other professional opportunities that lead to full-time employment in the Jamestown area after graduation.

“They are helping those businesses provide the services that they do generate revenue within those businesses,” Wiest said. “A lot of our athletic teams are also volunteering, helping out those nonprofit types of organizations to better the community whether it is the food bank, volunteer organizations. Interns at an organization graduate or they student-teach in the Jamestown Public School system and then stay in Jamestown and they get hired on as a teacher.”

Wiest said the university’s program offerings supply employers with a steady flow of qualified and trained workers.

UJ had 35 internship or field work experiences for academic credit in 2021 in Jamestown, according to data obtained by Heidi Larson, director of career services at UJ. She also said the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Internship Reimbursement Program has been helpful to encourage local businesses to host interns.

The study said out-of-region visitors who came to Jamestown for activities at UJ brought in more than $1.5 million new dollars to the community, which had a more than $4.6 million effect on the economy. The study said visitors bring in new dollars to the economy through spending at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses.

The study said UJ provides an affordable private college education where almost 100% of its students receive some type of financial aid. The study said the university awards $10.4 million annually in academic scholarships, athletic and fine arts awards, merit aid and other assistance.

“Affordable and accessible higher education is essential in order to meet economic needs,” Wiest said. “The net price of the University of Jamestown is comparable to North Dakota and regional higher education institutions.”

The study also said the university’s Character in Leadership program attracts students who want to make a difference on a local and global scale.

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“The University of Jamestown benefits society as a whole through the Character in Leadership program,” Wiest said. “We commit ourselves to assist students in the development of the knowledge, attitudes, values, and leadership skills that will enable them to live and to influence others to live with the sound character that naturally leads to service for the greater good of all.”

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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