Michigan State University

Michigan State University

(The Center Square) – Three of Michigan’s top public universities boosted the state economy by $19.3 billion in 2019, according to a new report by Anderson Economic Group.

Michigan State University (MSU), the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (UM), and Wayne State University (WSU) — dubbed Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC) —  accounted for a $19.3 billion net economic statewide impact in fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which data is available.

The $19.3 billion net impact is more than 20 times greater than the $924 million the state spent on the three universities in FY 2019, the report says.

The report follows a House budget plan for fiscal year 2022 that doesn’t include a 2% funding increase backed by the Michigan Senate and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Under the House plan, UM would see a 12.2% budget cut ($39.5 million); WSU would see a 4% budget cut ($8.2 million) from the FY ‘21 budget; and MSU would see a 1.2% increase ($3.6 million).

Michigan’s state support for public universities on a per-student basis ranks 40th in the nation, says a new national State Higher Education Finance report.

The report says Michigan is last in the nation for state funding of financial aid per full-time equivalent student as of 2020.

“Over the past dozen years, Michigan went through the Great Recession, saw an extended period of job and income growth, then entered the pandemic year of 2020,” AEG CEO and president Patrick Anderson said in a statement “This report is based on data from just before the pandemic started, so it does not capture pandemic-related losses. But it does demonstrate conclusively the importance of the URC to jobs and income in this state, through good times and bad.”

Enrollment at the three universities has grown by more than 16,600 students since 2007, with 141,000 students enrolled in FY 2019.

The URC colleges grant nearly 12,000 degrees annually in high-tech areas such as biomedicine and bioscience; another 13,000 degrees in business, computer science, and engineering; as well as almost 2,500 medical degrees each year.

“These are the kinds of graduates needed to create autonomous vehicles, medical devices, better agricultural crops and solutions to the challenges our communities and businesses face today,” URC Executive Director Britany Affolter-Caine said in a statement. “Michigan’s URC remains a powerful driver of Michigan’s economic success, keeping our state on the cutting edge of new technology, medical breakthroughs and training the talent needed to keep Michigan competitive.”

The URC universities conduct $2.7 billion in research and development (R&D) annually.

In FY 2019, the URC universities attracted 94 cents of every federal dollar spent on academic research in Michigan and partnered with universities statewide to conduct federally funded research.

The report found the URC increased Michigan tax revenue by $640 million while generating $10.8 billion in incremental earnings for Michigan households through university operations and capital spending.

Daniel Hurley, chief executive officer of the Michigan Association of State Universities, says this data should push lawmakers to allocate more funding to universities.

“Job providers need more workers with bachelor’s degrees. Lawmakers currently have at their disposal a historic amount of revenues they can allocate. Now is the time to make a major investment in Michigan’s 15 public universities and the future workforce they are producing,” Hurley said in a statement

Anderson agreed.

“Michigan’s URC has become a national model for supporting the economy of its home state, while fulfilling its mission of education and research,” Anderson said, adding the state compares favorably to a similar analysis done in Massachusetts, California, Texas and North Carolina. “This year’s report shows that Michigan’s research institutions continue to be world leaders and important job and income generators in our state.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.