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Study finds UD has $3.2 billion annual influence on local economy

Delaware Public Media

A recent independent study found the University of Delaware generates an estimated $3.2 billion for the local economy.

The new report by Econsult Solutions Inc. of Philadelphia updates a 2018 study and says the multi-billion dollar impact supports more than 26,000 jobs in the state. The jobs number includes Blue Hen alumni, who the report says collectively earn an additional $1.2 billion a year, thanks to their UD education.

UD President Dennis Assanis says the university’s product is its students.

“When they have more spending power, they spend more in the local economy," he says. "So that's another huge component – the fact that our students are more educated, they have a better lifestyle, and ultimately they give back to the economy.”

The university has also invested around $515 million in capital projects over the last four years on Star Campus, athletic facilities, and others. But one of the biggest components comes from visitors.

“The number of visitors that we bring to campus every year is about 775,000," Assanis says. "That's mind boggling if you think about it. So what they spend on food, on entertainment, on lodging, on services, around town and beyond, is a very, very significant component.”

Even with a $1 billion operating budget each year, the university receives $130 million annually from the state of Delaware, but Assanis says for every dollar, the multiplier is 23 to 1.

And while UD is a tax exempt institution, President Dennis Assanis says business and personal taxes support the economy.

And the school is continuing to grow.

“We've added, for example, a million square feet of new space on Star Campus, just to give you a sense, and 3000 new jobs over the past four or five years," Assanis says. "And we're growing in academics. About a third of our academic body now has been hired over the past five years. That's another pretty amazing statistic.”

Assanis adds UD made what he calls a remarkable recovery from the pandemic, losing around 700 students in the 2021 freshman class. But two years later, they’ve hit a record number of incoming students, and applications are soaring above typical numbers too.

But that growth will plateau, and Assanis says eventually, acceptance into the school will become harder.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.