Economic Impact Study FY 12

Economic Impact of the University of North Carolina at Asheville
April 2013 Executive Summary

As the dedicated liberal arts institution in the University of North Carolina system, UNC Asheville kindles learning by offering students an intellectually rigorous education that builds critical thinking and workforce skills to last a lifetime. Small class size, award-winning faculty and a nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program foster innovation as well as recognition. About 3,700 undergraduate students and about 300 full- and part-time faculty bring the campus alive with a genuine hunger to understand and contribute to the human experience. Amid the culturally rich setting of Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's all designed to spark a lifelong quest to know more — a fire that will grow brighter in the future.

The university is a critical component of Asheville's creative economy. Through its faculty, students, staff, and facilities, UNC Asheville serves as the academic, cultural, economic, and social nexus of the Asheville region. In the report that follows, the economic impact of the University for fiscal year 2012 on the Asheville North Carolina metro area is explained on many levels. The study examines the annual impact of:

  • Campus Operations ($153.5 million)
  • Student Spending ($36.3 million)
  • Graduate Education Premium ($64.1 million)
  • Outside Visitors ($6.4 million)
  • New Resident Attraction ($7.6 million); and
  • Capital Spending ($6.4 million)

The total economic impact of UNC Asheville is $268 million. Compared to the last economic impact study in 1995 (when adjusting for inflation), UNC Asheville's total impact has increased by over $100 million. In all categories, UNC Asheville has positively impacted the region with significant effects from faculty, staff, and student spending. Operationally, the university also contributes heavily to the local economy in terms of regular purchasing of products and services to run the university. On all levels, the university contributes both monetarily and through employment, both direct and indirect. Local jobs supported amount to 2,592 individuals.

Of note is the influence of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). It is well documented that the City of Asheville attracts retirees to the region. OLLI conservatively estimates that it attracts 100 new households a year as a result of their center's activities. The economic impact of the center alone is around $7.6 million.

To conclude, UNC Asheville can be viewed as an engine of economic growth within the region. While it is impossible to put a value on the cultural impact of the institution, we know through our students and the many events held on campus that the university plays a critical role in the creative economy. UNC Asheville's regional impact is strong and affirms its standing as the academic, cultural, economic, and social nexus of the region.

Finding Highlights

  • Economic activity generated by UNC Asheville supports 2,592 local jobs, adds $105.5 million in local income, and raises total economic output in the Asheville area by $268 million.
  • For every dollar the state of North Carolina appropriates to UNC Asheville:
    • Income increases by $2.96 in the Asheville area.
    • Total economic output increases by $7.52 in the Asheville area.
  • Economic activity generated by UNC Asheville increases annual tax revenues by more than $35.8 million dollars; $14.8 million in state & local taxes, and $21 million in Federal taxes. On-campus employment accounts for less than one-third of the local jobs UNC Asheville supports.
  • More than 1,800 local supported jobs are off-campus in industries well-outside of education. For example, UNC Asheville supports 442 jobs in Retail Trade, 266 jobs in Real Estate, 246 jobs in Accommodation & Food Services and 243 jobs in Health Care & Social Assistance.
  • UNC Asheville students spend over $30 million annually in the local economy.
  • Student spending annually supports 506 local jobs, raises economic output by $36.3 million, and increases tax revenues by $6.9 million.
  • Graduates of UNC Asheville living in the Asheville area increase local earnings by $85 million on an account of having attained a Bachelor's or Graduate's degree.
  • The graduate education premium supports 588 local jobs by means of added spending, raises economic output by $64 million, and increases tax revenues by $8.6 million.
  • UNC Asheville attracts new residents to the Asheville area. Survey results from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute attribute the annual relocation of 100 new households, partially on account of the Institute's activities and introduction to the community.
  • Added local spending from new 100 households supports 69 local jobs, raises economic output by $7.6 million, and increases tax revenues by $1 million.
  • Visitors who traveled from outside the Asheville area to attend or participate in a UNC Asheville event spend an estimated $4.5 million annually in the local economy.
  • The visitor spending annually supports 95 local jobs, raises local economic output by $6.4 million, and increases tax revenues by $1.1 million.

Click here for the complete Economic Impact Study(pdf)