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WKU has major impact on Warren County economy, study shows

WKU’s impact on Warren County’s economy goes far beyond money students and employees spend on food, housing and entertainment, according to a new study from WKU’s Center for Applied Economics.

WKU accounts for about 26 percent of expenditures ($672 million), 14 percent of the jobs (6,600) and 10 percent of the earnings ($252 million) in Warren County, according to the report prepared by Dr. Brian Goff and Dr. Catherine Carey, co-directors of the center in the Gordon Ford College of Business.

“These figures confirm much of what we know given the size of WKU,” said Dr. Goff, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics. “WKU is a major part of the local economy and provides a great deal of stability through economic downturns.”

In addition, Dr. Goff and Dr. Carey studied 35 counties in 20 states with characteristics similar to Warren County to examine the economic impact of having a WKU-sized university versus counties without a major university.

In the past decade WKU’s impact on Warren County has meant the addition of about 3,000 more jobs, 6,000 more people and $12,000 in median housing value relative to similar locations without a comparable-sized university.

“The presence of a WKU-sized university exhibits a sizable influence on local economic performance relative to locations without a university,” the study says.

In their study, Dr. Goff and Dr. Carey used standard economic multipliers to estimate the direct impacts of expenditures and employment and also to estimate the indirect impact as WKU employees or business partners spend WKU-derived income on food, clothing, housing or other items.

“These are all ballpark figures not exact numbers, but the averages are based on regional and national data,” Dr. Goff said.

In 2006, a survey-based study by economics professor Bill Davis found that WKU students, faculty and staff spent $179 million in the community.

“This study builds on the surveys of faculty and student expenditures that Dr. Davis did six years ago,” Dr. Goff said. “This broadens the scope and looks at all expenditures and the secondary impacts. There’s no surprise that our numbers are in line with the numbers his study generated.”

More online: Download a pdf of the study.

Contact: Dr. Brian Goff, (270) 745-3855 or brian.goff@wku.edu.


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