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UW-Madison adds $12.4 billion a year to economy, study finds

UW-Madison adds $12.4 billion a year to economy, study finds

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UW-Madison and affiliated organizations contribute $12.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy, according to a new study, the first of its kind in eight years.

The report, conducted by Madison-based NorthStar Economics Inc., found that the university, UW Hospital and Clinics and related groups support 128,146 jobs.

The results come as UW-Madison officials seek to affirm the university’s importance to the state in the face of a $125 million budget cut under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed two-year state budget.

UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin used the study to highlight why the university needs a new operational model, which it would get if a proposal in Walker’s budget is approved by the state Legislature.

“I don’t think we should say, ‘This looks really good, therefore we’re satisfied,’” Martin said. “I’d like to see what we could have done for the university and the state since 2003 if we had the flexibility and autonomy that we seek now.”

Under Walker’s budget, UW-Madison would gain public authority status, giving the university its own 21-member board of trustees and more autonomy from the state in handling its funding. The UW Board of Regents doesn’t want UW-Madison split off and instead would like the UW System to be granted more autonomy.

The report looked at the annual economic impact of UW-Madison, UW Hospital and Clinics, start-up businesses, and related organizations, such as Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and University Research Park. NorthStar Economics is a consulting firm located in University Research Park’s Downtown center.

It found that spending by UW-Madison and UW Hospital and Clinics — including operations and spending by faculty, staff, students and visitors — contribute $9.6 billion to the state’s economy.

That’s nearly double the amount in 2003, the last time NorthStar conducted a similar study.

Start-up companies spawned by, or connected to, UW-Madison contributed another $2 billion to the economy. Affiliated organizations, such as WARF and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, contribute another $862 million to the state’s economy.

For every $1 of state tax investment to the university, there is $21.05 in economic activity in the state, the study found.

The study was conducted over about nine months and cost about $160,000, said David J. Ward, president of NorthStar Economics. The funding came from WARF and University Research Park.

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