Grand Valley State University pumps $592 million into West Michigan economy, annual study finds

Grand Valley State University pumps $592 million into West Michigan economy, annual study finds

by Nardy Baeza Bickel and Kym Reinstadler | The Grand Rapids Press

Tuesday May 05, 2009, 11:00 AM

Jon M. Brouwer | The Grand Rapids PressA high note: College students Erin Jenkins, left, and Leanne Johnson, center, work on their laptop computers Monday afternoon at The Bitter End, a coffee shop on West Fulton Street.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Coffee and snack food may not be the best thing for a college student to fuel a young person's appetite, but Grand Valley State University students' buying habits go a long way toward fueling the West Michigan economy.


As Christian Goedel sipped coffee from a 20-ounce cup at The Bitter End and marveled at how The Bitter End makes ends meet.


The 23-year-old Grand Valley State University business major paid $2.25 for a 20-ounce cup of fair trade coffee at the 24/7 shop, a few blocks west of campus on West Fulton Street.



Add it up
Grand Valley State University's economic impact for the 2007-08 fiscal year:


Total sales in region: $592 million*
Estimated employment: 9,677 jobs*
GVSU employment: 2,887 jobs (2,124 full time, 763 part time)


*Figures in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties attributed to GVSU's existence.


SOURCE: Grand Valley State University


"Knowing how hard this economy is on all businesses, you wonder how they can afford to operate around the clock," said Goedel, a senior from Sebewaing.


What Goedel did not factor in was how much business he and other Grand Valley students and staff -- not to mention GVSU itself -- infuse into the region's economy.


Bottom line: It's not pocket change.


For the 2007-08 fiscal year, GVSU's presence meant a $592 million economic impact in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. Of that, students' expenditures were an estimated $157.6 million.


The figures are in GVSU's annual economic impact report released today and compiled from university sources using a measurement model by the Kalamazoo-based W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.


"Grand Valley is a great investment for West Michigan. The public is getting a great return," said GVSU Vice President Matt McLogan.


This year, GVSU is expected to receive $62 million from the state, down from $64 million last year.


Jon M. Brouwer | The Grand Rapids PressHappy to serve: Chris Striebel, who works at the The Bitter End coffee shop on West Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, cleans the expresso machine Monday afternoon.

But while state aid is decreasing, GVSU's impact is on the upswing.


The university's economic impact was an estimated $524 million for 2005-06 and $559.8 million for 2006-07.


Grand Valley enrolled 23,464 students in fall 2007, which increased to a record 23,892 last fall.


"I like to think we're a force of stability in an otherwise uncertain economy," McLogan said.


That stability is evident through GVSU's presence, with its main campus in Allendale Township; Pew campus and Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids; Meijer Campus in Holland; and Muskegon Regional Center at Muskegon Community College and Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon.


Also, GVSU partners on the West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative with the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids and the Muskegon Lakeshore/Harbor 31 SmartZone in Muskegon.


Grand Valley officials also point out the university helps stem brain drain from West Michigan, with about half of GVSU's nearly 70,000 alumni living or working in the three-county area.


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