February 27, 2017  

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Independent Study Reveals The University of Southern Mississippi’s $603.3 Million Annual Economic Impact on Mississippi

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Economic Driver. Employment Generator. Community Partner. The University of Southern Mississippi fills many roles for the state of Mississippi above and beyond its primary mission as an educator and research leader. And the extent to which it successfully fills those roles has now been revealed.

The results of an independent economic and social impact study are in, and USM officials have announced the University generates $603.3 million per year in Mississippi.

“I am proud that USM is not only a comprehensive research institution, but is also an economic asset to our communities in Hattiesburg, along the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast, and across our state as a whole,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “We look forward to continuing to meet economic, education, and research needs by providing quality opportunities to the next generation of Mississippians who will live, work, and remain in the state of Mississippi.”

The study was conducted by Tripp Umbach, a nationally recognized consulting firm that has completed more than 150 economic impact studies over the past 25 years for clients in North America, Australia and Europe. Tripp Umbach utilized the most recent economic data from public sources like the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Department of Labor and the Census Bureau in examining the University’s economic impact throughout Fiscal Year 2015.

“Southern Miss chose to use an external firm so that we could validate to our investors the dynamic return that we provide,” said Chad Driskell, USM Vice President for External Affairs.

The study accounted for the University’s direct, indirect, and induced economic impact on the state. Further defined, a direct impact would be an investment in construction and expenditures for operations; an indirect impact would be a purchase from an area supplier; and an induced impact would be household spending from earnings of direct and indirect expenditures. More than $280 million of the impact total were found to be direct.

Tripp Umbach reported direct and indirect impact on the Hattiesburg area of $556.4 million and $115.6 million per year on the Gulf Coast. USM creates and supports more than 5,872 jobs in Hattiesburg and 1,283 on the Gulf Coast, while generating $32.7 million per year in tax revenue in Hattiesburg and $6.5 million per year on the Gulf Coast.

“The University of Southern Mississippi is a staple in the pine belt and a prime example of sound federal investment in South Mississippi, said Congressman, and alumnus, Steven Palazzo. “They bring in more than 14,000 students, support approximately 7,000 jobs, and provide an excellent, and one of the most affordable, higher education opportunities in our nation.

“It’s safe to say that South Mississippi wouldn’t be the same without USM, and as a two-time graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, neither would I,” he added.

Tripp Umbach’s examination revealed broad and substantial impacts:

  • As a research leader, the University’s research activities produced an economic impact of $135.7 million, supported 947 jobs, and generated $3.6 million in state and local government revenue;
  • As an employment generator, USM supported 7,153 jobs throughout the state, including directly employing 4,231 individuals;
  • As a government revenue supporter, USM generated more than $33 million in state and local tax revenue; and
  • As a community partner, the impacts of volunteer time and donations by USM faculty, staff and students were estimated to reach $32 million.

The research also demonstrated the impact of various University units. Examples include:

  • Southern Miss athletic programs, which contributed a total of $31.2 million in economic activity, supported 280 jobs throughout the state, and generated $1.6 million in state and local tax impact;
  • The impact of the arts at USM, which amounted to more than $5 million in economic activity across the state, supported 53 jobs and generated more than  $250,000 in state and local tax impact; and
  • The School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, which generated a total of $4.3 million in economic activity, supported 45 jobs across the state and generated more than $200,000 in state and local tax impact.

“This study validates the economic impact that our great university has on our state as a result of federal, state and private investment,” Driskell said. ““Southern Miss investors take note; you’re getting a powerful return!”