UNC Wilmington Pumps Nearly $1.1 Billion Annually into Local Economy

UNCW Senior Economist Woody Hall

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Friday, August 24, 2012

A new economic impact study has revealed that the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a significant catalyst for the economic engine of Southeastern North Carolina, generating more than $1 billion in annual economic activity during academic year 2011-12.

"This is an astounding number," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller.  "It's a concrete representation of the value of UNC Wilmington, North Carolina's coastal university, to our region.  Our commitment to the journey of learning extends far beyond the university and has a profound impact throughout the community we serve." 

The study, conducted by UNCW's H. David and Diane Swain Center for Business and Economic Services, focused on UNCW's economic impact in four major areas: construction and renovation projects, student spending, faculty/staff spending and the day-to-day operations of the campus. Contributors to the study were William "Woody" Hall, senior economist with the Swain Center; Ed Graham, professor of finance in the Cameron School of Business; and Bill Sackley, director of the Swain Center.

Data collected for the study show that UNCW is supporting more than 4 percent of total economic activity in the region. That is activity that creates jobs, spurs the retail sector and brings in tax revenue to New Hanover and surrounding counties, said Hall. He presented the survey data to the university's Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting Friday, Aug. 24.

"Colleges and universities are viewed primarily as organizations providing opportunities for advanced education and venues for the cultural and performing arts and athletic contests," said Hall. "Another impact of higher education, sometimes overlooked, is the effect that the operations of these institutions have on area economic activity."

Sources for the data included university records, a survey of a sample of UNCW students and a survey of a sample of faculty and staff. The surveys asked respondents about their spending habits in the areas of housing, retail shopping, restaurants, entertainment and other relevant economic sectors. The study focused on eight counties in UNCW's service region: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Sampson.

Some key statistics:

  • More than 9,200 jobs generated in the region through UNCW economic activity
  • More than $335 million in labor income, including wages and salaries and self-employment income
  • Almost $15 million in sales and excise tax collections
  • Almost $13 million in county property tax collections

The last major study of UNCW economic impact on the region was conducted in 1986.

"Given the time elapsed since the last study, we certainly expected the total economic impact of the university to have grown significantly," said Hall. "But it was still impressive to see that it had passed the $1 billion mark."

Media contact:
Andrea Weaver, University Relations, 910.962.7631 or weaver@uncw.edu