> Office of Planning & Analysis
Economic Impact Study
- Serving Montana Academically and Economically
- Where Does the Money Come From?
- Where Does the Money Go?
- The University's Impact on the Montana Economy
- Producer of Jobs
- Research Magnet
- An MSU-Bozeman Profile
- The Research and Development Connection
- The University's Economic Impact on the Gallatin Valley
- A Word About Methods
A Message from President Malone
In 1893, there were many reasons that the people of Bozeman wanted the
state's first public institution of higher education located in the Gallatin
Valley. Our forbearers talked about the intrinsic value of education,
about the opportunities for their sons and daughters, and about the need
for Montanans to grow and progress. They certainly talked also about the
jobs a university would bring, but most did not foresee the pivotal role
Montana State University-Bozeman would play in the economy of the state.
Today people would acknowledge that the state's major research university
does have a significant economic impact. The problem comes in translating
"impact" to a specific number. There have been anecdotal reports and even
a few isolated efforts to quantify the economic effects of student purchases
or faculty salaries, but this is the first time we have been specific about
MSU's place in the economy of Montana and of the Gallatin Valley.
Perhaps our reluctance to do this is borne of concern that the real
reason for a university, which is education and hard to quantify, would be
lost in the numeric economic graphs and charts. Yet we also believe that
it is important to be more definitive about the role of MSU-Bozeman as
an economic engine for Montana.
The numbers, as you shall see, are impressive, but they are also
conservative. In fact, our economic impact statement is notable for what
we do not quantify. We have not, for example, put a number to the value
of 25,000 educated alumni living and working in Montana, yet these citizens
are our most valuable asset. In 1994, 60 percent of our graduates found
work in Montana, where they earned an average starting salary of $24,146.
We cannot put a firm value on many of the new products and processes
that have come from university research, but we are confident that these
also play an important role in the economy. Finally, we have not tried to
quantify the immense economic value of university service, which includes
everything from consulting with local governments to technical assistance
for Montana manufacturers. These, too, are a significant part of our
land-grant responsibility and perhaps at some time we will be able to
quantify this work as well.
In preparing this document, we have focused on those things which we
can count and verify. The methods we used to derive these numbers are
not very complex, but they are well grounded and available to anyone
who needs more information.
We also wish to be clear that our underlying and enduring interest
is to make sure that Montana State University-Bozeman meets the needs of
the people of this state, academically as well as economically. We
welcome comments and suggestions.
Montana State University-Bozeman is a public institution operated by
the state of Montana, primarily for the benefit of Montanans. Its annual
operating revenues for fiscal year 1994 (July 1, 1993 - June 30, 1994)
totaled $137.5 million.1 Of this figure $50
million, or approximately 36 percent, came from Montana's taxpayers.
The University generated the remaining two-thirds of its budget from
student tuition and fees, grants and contracts awarded to faculty members,
private funds donated by alumni and friends, and income from residence
halls and dining facilities. Put another way, for every $1 of state money
appropriated to MSU-Bozeman, the campus generates an additional $1.74 from
The University's most important assets are its faculty, staff and
students. For that reason over half of its $137.5 million expenditure
in FY94 went to salaries or payroll, as shown in
An additional $39 million, or just over one-quarter, was paid to
businesses where the University buys everything from paper, chalk,
books, and food to highly sophisticated computer systems, laboratory
instruments, and construction materials.
The remaining $24 million dollars, or nearly one-fifth of its annual
budget, was used to finance scholarships, student loans and fee waivers,
as well as to pay off bonded indebtedness and the overhead costs
associated with sponsored research.
Montana State University-Bozeman spent $137.5 million in FY94 (Figure A).
This is an impressive statistic, but it doesn't measure the full economic
impact of the University on the state, which is summarized in the pie chart
below. A more detailed breakdown by expenditure category is available in
Expenditures in Montana by Category
First, the expenditures in Figure B include only those dollars spent in
Montana, since money spent outside the state has no direct economic benefit
to Montana. Second, MSU-Bozeman makes an economic impact through the
expenditures of the nonresident students and visitors it attracts as well
as through its own expenditures. These calculations are also reflected in
Third, $50 million in state tax appropriations is excluded from the
analysis because these dollars would also benefit the Montana economy if
they went to another state institution or, if they stayed in the taxpayers'
pockets. The real question is to ask what economic impact the University
generates for Montana beyond its state tax subsidy.
The answer is startling. In FY94 the state economy gained $75.5 million
in direct expenditures related to MSU-Bozeman. That number is more than
the total annual payroll for all coal mining in Montana. It also exceeds
the payroll for all the oil and gas extractive industry in
But the full economic impact is greater than $75.5 million because the
money does not stop in the businesses where it is spent. Those businesses
spend the money again in many ways, such as hiring employees, purchasing
supplies and insurance. The $75.5 million recirculating through the state
generates another $65.9 million in economic activity for Montana, making
the University's total economic impact $141.4 million in
These expenditures not only make a big difference to Montana businesses,
but they also create jobs.
Every $1 million the University spends in the Montana economy supports
almost 60 non-University jobs.4
In total, University purchases support over
1600 Montana jobs each year, 420 of them in Gallatin County. These jobs
span the employment sector and could include anything from a computer
salesperson or a construction worker to a corporate manager or a health
care worker. All 1600 jobs are in addition to the 2100 people employed by
As noted in Figure B, the University's biggest contribution to Montana's
economy comes from the $40 million spent by its growing non-resident
student population and from resident students in academic programs unique
to MSU-Bozeman among Montana institutions.
The $40 million includes that portion of tuition which is spent again by
the University for goods and services. It also includes the books, supplies,
rent, food, entertainment and personal items students purchase outside the
Expenditures by Montana students enrolled in engineering, architecture
and other degree programs unique to MSU-Bozeman are included in the $40
million total because these students have no other in-state options.
Without the Bozeman campus, about 2,000 students would likely leave Montana,
taking with them the money they spend for tuition and living
The next largest contribution to the Montana economy comes from the
$31 million spent by University research operations, the Agricultural
Experiment Station and the Montana Extension Service. These dollars
support the work that results in increased yields and best practices for
farmers and ranchers, new products for industry and the information
available through county Extension offices. The figure also includes
private donations raised by the MSU Foundation on behalf of the University.
Surprisingly, out-of-state visitors attracted to Montana by University
employees and students added an estimated $5 million to Montana's economy
A survey of faculty and staff revealed an average of eight
visitors per respondent during the year, each staying an average of five
days and adding $2 million to the economy. Out-of-state visitors to the
Museum of the Rockies injected $900,000 into the economy and visitors
attending conferences held at the University spent another $700,000. Other
out-of-state visitors included families and friends of non-resident
students as well as athletic teams and alumni.
According to information taken from a campus-wide survey last fall,
about half of the current University employees moved to Montana specifically
to take a job at MSU-Bozeman. Eighty-one percent of the respondents own
their own homes.7
University respondents estimated that they provided 148,132 hours of
volunteer time last year to churches; schools; various community support
groups such as service clubs, the library or food bank; cultural organizations
such as the symphony or opera; and a host of state, regional and national
boards. That works out to an average of 83 hours, or more than two working
weeks, of volunteer time per person, per year.
Faculty and staff also estimated that last year they gave $946,000 to
charities in Gallatin County and an additional $242,000 to other Montana
charities, an average of $565 per employee, per year.
There are no statistics on student contributions to charity, but
MSU-Bozeman students did volunteer 29,150 hours last year, about 80 percent
of it in Gallatin County. This figure excludes internships and other
academically-related activities in the community.
To determine how much economic activity MSU-Bozeman generates beyond
its annual tax-based appropriation, research funds were adjusted elsewhere
in this report to show only the portion that came from outside Montana
and then only the part spent in Montana. It's important to note that
University research expenditures on grants and contracts from all sources
in FY94 totaled $31 million.
This money resulted from more than 900 carefully thought-out ideas
that faculty submitted to a host of private and public grant competitions.
Not only do the grants enrich the undergraduate program by attracting good
faculty and bringing discovery closer to students, but they also have an
important impact on a growing segment of Montana's
Research funding has fostered many partnerships between faculty,
students and Montana businesses. In addition, faculty research has
resulted in new products and processes which yield returns on the
research investment. MSU-Bozeman is also providing excellent graduate and
undergraduate students who are working throughout Montana. Last year over
50 percent of the engineering graduates reported finding Montana jobs in
University alumni have also started some of the new technology-based
businesses which have grown up in the last decade. Thirty-five high-tech
firms in the Gallatin Valley and several in Butte and Missoula--all
with ties to University research--signal new directions in the Montana
Research benefits to the private sector just in the last year include
a new hard white winter wheat, a new laser optics measuring device and
two new pharmaceuticals, all in the hands of companies which expect to
develop these products for the market. MSU-Bozeman currently holds 17
patents on products and processes with economic promise. It also has
40 research agreements with Montana companies, working on the new ideas
that will ensure future competitive success.
Although Montana State University-Bozeman serves the entire state
through its land-grant mission, it is located in the Gallatin Valley where
it is the largest employer. The University accounts for more than a quarter
of the county's total economic base. That percentage is larger than the
county's total trade center activity and also larger than
All expenditures made in Gallatin County during FY94 by the University,
its employees, its students and the visitors they attracted sum to a direct
economic impact of $101 million. As local businesses spent this money again
within the county, it generated an additional $65 million in economic
activity, raising the University's total economic impact on the county to
The University's economic impact on the county differs from its impact
on the state. The two calculations are entirely separate and one cannot be
derived from the other. For example, total University purchases are
lower in Gallatin County than for the state as a whole so the economic
impact from direct purchasing is smaller.
On the other hand, MSU-Bozeman's state tax subsidy, which is not
included in the state economic impact, does have a major effect on
the county. Tax dollars are included in the county impact figures because
most of the tax is paid by people living outside the Gallatin Valley. As
such, the tax subsidy represents money brought into the county by
Different residency patterns also affect state and county economic
impacts. Most of the students who are residents of the state come to
MSU-Bozeman from outside Gallatin County and their presence has a major
economic impact. However, 300 of the University's full-time employees live
outside the county so they are excluded from the county impact calculations.
Expenditures by full-time students had the greatest economic impact on
the county in FY94. Students spent $61 million for books and supplies,
rental housing, food, entertainment, personal items and transportation, as
shown in the pie chart below. A more detailed breakdown by expenditure
category is available in Figure C.
Expenditures in Gallatin County by Category
Faculty and staff spent another $23 million on goods and services in the
county 10 and they also paid over $1 million in
property taxes. These figures do not include expenditures for real estate
and housing construction. Since more than 80 percent of University faculty
and staff own their own homes, this number is likely substantial, but not
The University spent $8 million with businesses in Gallatin County,
purchasing the whole range of goods and services required to run the campus.
The same amount, $8 million, was spent by visitors coming from outside
Gallatin County whose trips were directly attributable to the Bozeman
campus. A large part of that $8 million was generated by visitors that
faculty, students and staff attracted to the greater Bozeman
1. The source of revenue and expenditure data is the
MSU-Bozeman financial statement, less internal transfers. Figures include
the Bozeman campus and its extended nursing programs in Billings, Great
Falls and Missoula; the Montana Extension Service; and eight Montana
Agricultural Research Centers. These figures do not include the affiliated
Montana State University campuses in Billings, Havre and Great Falls. That
is planned for a future study.
2. These comparisons can be found in the
Montana Business Quarterly, Winter 1995 edition, page 45, Table 3,
'Personal Income by Major Component.'
3. The spending multiplier of 1.8725 used to
calculate MSU-Bozeman's total economic impact on Montana was provided by
the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Department of Commerce. It
recognizes that the money spent by the University, its students and
visitors not only creates jobs and income directly, but the money
also results in additional indirect expenditures before leaving the
4. The employment multiplier of 58.9 jobs
supported by each $1 million spent was provided by the Bureau of Economic
Analysis of the US Department of Commerce. It assumes that businesses
must hire employees to support the trade created by the
5. Academic programs available in Montana
only at MSU-Bozeman include architecture, non-mining engineering,
agriculture, cinematography, photography and medical science.
6. A survey was conducted by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation
Research to determine spending patterns of out-of-state visitors to
Montana in 1993. The survey found that the average tourist group was
comprised of 2.34 persons who spent $87 per day and typically stayed
four days and three nights.
7. Some of the data in this report came
from a September 1994 survey sent to faculty and staff working on the
MSU-Bozeman campus. Forty-one percent of the faculty and staff returned
survey forms. The employees who responded were representative of the
employee profile in FY94, giving the University confidence in generalizing
the survey results to the overall employee population.
8. The figures for Gallatin County can be
found in the Montana Business Quarterly, Winter 1995 edition, page 6,
Figure 9, 'Non-Farm Labor Income for Gallatin County.' The figures for
the University's economic impact on the county differ from those calculated
for the state because the expenditures in Figure C reflect funds
attracted from outside the county. Student expenditures illustrate
purchases made by all full-time students who came from outside the county
9. The Bureau of Economic Analysis had not
calculated an expenditure multiplier for Gallatin County, so the state
multiplier was reduced using survey data. Respondents reported that 88
percent of the money they spent in Montana was spent in Gallatin County,
so the county multiplier was calculated as 1.6505, or 88 percent of
10. Disposable income for University employees
excludes state and federal income taxes, social security, Medicare
and state retirement. The percentage of disposable income spent in Montana
is based on figures published in the October 26, 1992, issue of Sales
and Marketing Management. The ratio of projected retail sales per
household to the projected average household effective buying income
is 0.551 for Montana. Because these data were not available for Gallatin
County, 88 percent of that ratio was used, based on the faculty and staff
11. These visits are distinct from those calculated
for the state impact because they are adjusted to account for all visitors
living outside Gallatin County. The state impact figures in Figure B were
calculated on those visitors living outside Montana.
To make this study as accurate as possible, we relied heavily on
University financial, student and personnel records to establish baseline
data for FY94. We surveyed faculty and staff to obtain information
unavailable from University records and also consulted various University
offices for information about visitors to campus. We used government
multipliers and published estimates where possible rather than making our
MSU-Bozeman's impact on the state was based on funds brought in from
out of state or funds that would have left the state were it not for the
University. The impact on the Gallatin Valley was calculated from funds
originating outside the county.
We were deliberately conservative in our calculations. For example, we
restricted our visitor expenditures to visitors of full-time employees.
We excluded part-time students from all expenditure calculations except
those for books and supplies. We based student expenditures on figures
used by the financial aid office in awarding aid; many students spend more
than these amounts while attending college.
This study was prepared by Dr. Cel Johnson, Director of the University
Office of Institutional Research. Dr. Doug Young, Professor of Economics at
the University, served as a consultant. For additional information, please
contact the Office of Institutional Research at