A Regional Economic Impact of $226 Million

Dr. Steven W. Shirley
President, Minot State University
Published February 6, 2020 in the Minot Daily News

Every two years, in conjunction with North Dakota’s biennial Legislative Session, the North Dakota University System (NDUS) works with researchers from NDSU’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics to assess the overall financial impact of the 11-campus NDUS. The report, “Economic Contribution of the North Dakota University System in 2019,” was released in mid-January and shows an overall impact of $5.5 billion for the entire System during the 2019 fiscal year.

The report goes further to review the data by each campus. In my role as president of Minot State University (MSU), I also serve as president of Dakota College at Bottineau (DCB). The total economic impact of MSU in 2019 was just shy of $190 million, and DCB’s overall economic contribution was just over $36 million. These figures include both the direct economic impact (or “first-round effects”) of in-state expenditures, coupled with the secondary economic effects as those first-round expenditures are circulated and re-spent in the economy. The direct effects measure aspects including wages and salaries, utilities expenses, travel, supplies and materials, equipment, construction projects, and other such expenses. The report also measures the impact of employee spending, student spending, and other economic activities.

Additionally, the impact of the two campuses is estimated to support 800 jobs in the region (these are in addition to the full- and part-time jobs by MSU and DCB employees). As the report’s authors note, “….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.”

Our students shop, dine, and consume a lot of services in the community, and they also figure prominently in filling part-time jobs, internships, and full-time careers following graduation. The many events that occur on campus attract tens of thousands of visitors to the region each year. Visitors to campus attend athletic events, symphonies, plays, concerts, opera productions, art shows, and Summer Theatre. Family members and friends visit their students and attend campus events and major celebrations such as Commencement. Even those not directly connected to campus spend time in the community – think of youth athletic tournaments held in the seasonal bubble or MSU Dome, K-12 festivals and camps on campus, and major regional/statewide events such as state high school volleyball or basketball tournaments that annually fill the Dome. It is our privilege hosting visitors from far and wide, and clearly these visitors throughout the year have a tremendously positive impact on local economies.

The primary purpose of MSU and DCB is, of course, not on serving as an economic engine for the region. Our campuses educate and serve thousands of students everyday who are pursuing their dreams and working toward a degree. We have hundreds of dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators who take this responsibility seriously and do outstanding work in creating a meaningful and responsive educational environment for those students. The campuses add to the cultural fabric of our society and help provide an educated force of talented human capital to keep our region and state moving forward. We are proud to provide the next generation of teachers, social workers, business leaders, musicians, scientists, speech pathologists, nurses, broadcasters, artists, researchers, law enforcement, and much more for North Dakota.

However, the economic impact of our campuses is indeed significant and cannot be overlooked. As I have said on many occasions, both the communities of Minot and Bottineau are better off for having MSU and DCB in their respective backyards, and likewise, MSU and DCB are so fortunate to exist in such welcoming and supportive communities as Minot and Bottineau. These “town-gown” relationships are win-win combinations for a host of reasons, and certainly the economic impact of the campuses figures into that overall equation.

As always….Go Beavers (and Go Lumberjacks)!