(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is a powerful economic engine for its region, responsible for a total of $282.5 million in annual output in Jackson County, according to a recent economic impact study by Portland-based consulting firm ECONorthwest.
SOU also is responsible for a total of 2,146 direct, indirect and induced jobs in its home county, the study found. Direct jobs are those at the university, indirect jobs are at businesses with which the university contracts and induced jobs are those generated in the local economy when wages earned at the university are spent.
The ECONorthwest study looked at the impact of all four Technical and Regional Universities (TRUs) in Oregon – SOU, Oregon Institute of Technology, Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon. SOU rated highest in both total economic output and total jobs among the four universities.
“This study confirms what we have long known – that SOU is a critically important player in the southern Oregon economy,” SOU President Linda Schott said.
“Our impacts go well beyond what was measured in this study,” she said. “We work collaboratively with employers in our region to develop academic programs that fill local needs and create opportunities for our students. We confer about 1,100 degrees each year, and a high number of those graduates stay in our area to launch careers and become leaders in their fields.”
The economic impact study also pointed to a recent analysis by the Oregon Employment Department that found a significant earnings advantage for local workers with four-year college degrees. The Employment Department determined that Jackson County residents with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of 35.5 percent more per month than those with some college or an associate degree, and 48.7 percent more than those with only a high school education.
The ECONorthwest study found that the TRU institutions had an annual total of 188,053 out-of-town visitors on their campuses, who spent a combined $15.4 million in those communities – with SOU the highest, at $6.05 million. Spending was calculated for lodging, dining and shopping.
Overall, the study found that the four TRUs were responsible for $1.03 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic output in Oregon.