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CMU boosts Michigan economy

New study measures positive impact at $1.2 billion, nearly 12,000 jobs


A new Anderson Economic Group study of Central Michigan University in its 125th year puts the economic impact of CMU on Michigan at $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2016. What's more, CMU accounts for the creation of nearly 12,000 jobs in Michigan.

"This report emphasizes CMU's importance to the state's economy: how our growth and Michigan's growth are intertwined and how residents, businesses and communities benefit," President George E. Ross said.

"To give this context, $1.2 billion a year is more than the $908 million it would cost to build the Mackinac Bridge today," he said.

Ross noted that the state is advancing along with CMU. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce's 2017 Economic Competitiveness Study ranks Michigan 21st in the nation, up from 47th in 2012.

"CMU is a great asset to all of us in Michigan," said Bill Weideman, chair of the university's Board of Trustees and retired chief financial officer of the Dow Chemical Co., now DowDuPont.

"This study affirms that by addressing significant unmet needs — for example, by creating a school to train teachers in 1892 or opening a College of Medicine in 2013 — CMU helps move Michigan in the right direction."

CMU also added mechanical and electrical engineering programs in 2004 to meet employer needs and is working today to add environmental engineering.

CMU trustees approved an updated strategic plan in June that identifies university ties to the larger community as one of three imperatives.

Ross in September announced CMU's first two premier business partnerships, with Ford Motor Co. and Quicken Loans. These partnerships help students and graduates secure internships and jobs while leveraging CMU's ability to fill critical talent gaps for employers.

Statewide presence

Three CMU affiliates also advance partnerships throughout Michigan and beyond, and their economic impact is included in the AEG report:

  • CMU Medical Education Partners, a partnership with Covenant HealthCare and St. Mary's of Michigan, began when CMU established its medical school. CMEP provides clinical education for medical students and resident physicians, with a goal of training and retaining doctors in Michigan.
  • CMU Research Corp. is the No. 1 business incubator funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in terms of jobs created and companies formed. CMURC launched in 2000 to support small businesses and startups. An upcoming Saginaw location will join its original Mount Pleasant office and one that opened in Bay City this year.
  • The Institute for Excellence in Education, founded in 1995, supports school improvement processes. More than 1,400 schools in 25 states use its Epicenter software.

The report also emphasizes CMU's physical presence beyond its 871-acre main campus: several satellite locations in downtown and metro Detroit, as well as centers in Flint, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Traverse City. The College of Medicine's high-tech 46,000-square-foot Saginaw Education Building features a massive simulation suite for hands-on training in examinations and surgeries.

Beyond buildings, Ross noted that CMU enrolls students from each of Michigan's 83 counties — which is relatively rare among Michigan universities. About 90 percent of CMU students reside in Michigan.

Other Michigan movers and shakers are taking note of the new report.

"The Dow Chemical Co. and Central Michigan University grew up together, neighbors and innovators in the Great Lakes Bay Region," said Rob Vallentine, global director of corporate citizenship for The Dow Chemical Co. and president and executive director of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. "CMU was founded in 1892, and Dow came along five years later, in 1897.

"I applaud Central Michigan University today on your 125th anniversary and on your $1.2 billion annual impact on Michigan. We at Dow are proud of your success as our neighbor, our friends, and the educator of hundreds of Dow team members and leaders."

"Isabella Bank is proud to have partnered with CMU throughout our combined history," said Jae Evans, president and chief executive officer of Isabella Bank Corp. "We've both been committed to Mount Pleasant and this region of Michigan for more than 100 years.

"We congratulate CMU for serving our community so well, for its unyielding focus on student success, and for building and nurturing long-term relationships with students and all of us in our community."

Measuring impact

AEG based its report on four sources of economic activity: university operations and construction, spending by the three CMU affiliates, student spending, and the amount by which CMU boosts alumni earnings.

The calculations follow U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis standards and account for the way dollars ripple through the economy — for example, how university spending supports businesses that in turn buy supplies and services from others.

University expenditures of $478.5 million are the largest single measure of spending in the report. That includes:

  • $281.6 million in pay and benefits.
  • $126.9 million on nonpayroll spending such as instruction and academic support, operations, and research.
  • $70 million in construction in 2016, including the $10.8 million renovation and expansion of Grawn Hall (home to CMU's business students) and completion of the $95 million Biosciences Building.

CMU alumni in Michigan earn an estimated $8.7 billion, and nearly 80 percent of new CMU graduates stay in Michigan.

Beyond the numbers

"The large numbers in this report have real-world impact," Ross said. "They measure the positive difference CMU makes, the effectiveness of our strategic thinking and the return on investment that our partners — students, alumni, businesses and taxpayers — can expect."


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