CORVALLIS - A Northwest economic consulting firm has estimated Oregon State University's impact on the combined economies of Linn and Benton counties in 1998 was more than $360 million, supporting more than 6,600 jobs.

ECONorthwest, one of the Northwest's largest economic consulting firms, analyzed each of the public universities in Oregon to determine their economic impact on both the local economies of the surrounding counties and the state as a whole. The study was commissioned by the Oregon University System.

John Topogna, an economist with ECONorthwest, said that while each university in the state system was analyzed for its economic impact, the universities were not compared. Topogna did say that Oregon State University has the largest economic impact on both the state and local economies of any of the state's universities.

The study shows that spending by OSU and its students generated $362.5 million in industrial output in Benton and Linn counties. That's nearly five times the amount appropriated to the university by the state in 1998.

Spending by the OSU community provided $250.6 million in income to local area workers and supported the equivalent of 6,626 full-time jobs in the two counties.

"OSU has long been perceived as one of Oregon's significant economic development engines," said Rob Specter, vice president of Finance and Administration at OSU. "This study provides a credible estimate of the university's impact on the state and local economies."

The report, titled "Economic Impacts of Expenditures Associated with Oregon State University," looked at the impacts of university-associated spending on the local and state economies and provides a discussion of the impact of an incremental state appropriation of $1 million to the university.

OSU is estimated to generate more than $500 million in spending, $350 million in personal income and almost 9,000 jobs for the state economy. The report indicates that the estimate of OSU's impact on the state economy is based on the assumption that if OSU did not exist the spending associated with the university would be lost to the state economy.

The report shows that for every $1 million spent by the state on OSU, an additional $5 million in new economic spending occurs in the Linn-Benton economy. That estimate is based on the assumption that state appropriations are needed to leverage other university revenue and that the additional $1 million would leverage the same outside funding as the current appropriations.

"This study shows that state tax dollars spent at OSU benefit both the state and local economies," Specter said.

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Rob Specter, 541-737-2447