Samford University’s estimated annual economic impact on the state of Alabama is more than $424.8 million, according to a study released Wednesday.
The independent study was conducted by Samuel Addy and Ahmad Ijaz with the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama.
For 2016-17, the most recent year for which complete data was available, Samford’s economic and fiscal impact was $424.8 million, 2,424 jobs and $16.1 million in state and local income and sales taxes.
Betsy Bugg Holloway, Samford’s vice president for marketing and communication, said the report affirms the ways the university contributes to economic development through teaching, research and service.
The majority of Samford’s impact – $384.1 million, 2,172 jobs and $5.2 million in local sales tax revenue – is in the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area. This includes an annual economic impact of $18.5 million from visitors to the university’s campus in Homewood. The university regularly hosts visitors from around the state, country and world to attend its athletics, arts and educational events.
“Samford University is an attractive investment for its graduates and clearly contributes to the state of Alabama and the Birmingham-Hoover metro area economies,” the report states. “In addition, Samford provides many other public and private benefits that, while difficult to quantify, clearly make it a great asset for the state and the metro area.”
The report also found that the state gains indirectly because Samford graduates pay higher taxes than they would have without their Samford degrees. “Over the working life of the 2016-17 graduating class, the Samford education will provide higher income that enables generation of $258.7 million additional income and sales taxes – $181.5 million in state sales and income tax collections and $77.2 million local sales taxes,” the report states.
According to the study, “a Samford education is a very high-yielding investment for students.” The real annual rate of return on some college attendance is 7.1 percent over a high school graduate. The bachelor’s degree has a 9.2 percent real annual rate of return over some college attendance, and the master’s degree yields a 15.7 percent return over a bachelor’s degree. The doctorate provides a 12.2 percent marginal return over the master’s degree. About 39 percent of Samford students are enrolled in graduate and professional programs, Holloway said.
The university has lasting impact on graduates and the general public through service and outreach programs. Through job creation, generation of tax revenues, promotion of innovation, assisting in business creation and growth and facilitation of economic development, Samford is making the metro area and the state “attractive for the startup, location and expansion of business and industry,” the study says. These benefits lead to improvement of workforce skills and the general quality of life, it says.
In recent years, Samford has placed particular emphasis on developing new programs designed to meet the needs of today’s workforce. According to Holloway, new programs in the College of Health Sciences and an emphasis on data analytics throughout Samford’s Brock School of Business are equipping graduates to succeed in some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand career fields.
“Samford’s commitment to developing new programs and evolving existing programs to meet the needs of our students, and the communities we serve, is undoubtedly a factor in Samford’s increasing economic impact,” Holloway said. An independent study conducted in 2014 found Samford’s impact for 2012-13 to be more than $335 million.
A link to the full 2016-17 report is available on the Samford website.