CMU has $940 million impact on state, helps local businesses flourish

Central Michigan University has a $940 million impact on the state of Michigan, according to a recent report made by the Anderson Economic Group.

The Anderson Economic Group, commissioned by The Presidents Council-State Universities of Michigan, prepared a report analyzing the economic footprint of Michigan's 15 public universities.

The report breaks down each university's impact in two sections: The economic footprint, which measures the employment, earnings and spending in a region that are related to economic activity created by the university, and the economic impact, which measures the employment, earnings and spending in a region caused by the university.

“This report underscores higher education’s importance in its financial impact on our local communities,” said CMU President George Ross in a press release. “Simply put, the data shows the state’s investment of $73 million in CMU this year also is an investment in the state’s economy."

The report concludes that all of Michigan's public universities combined to account for $23.9 billion in economic activity.

In Isabella County, CMU's main campus location, the university generates about $117 million in economic spending annually. This trend is similar across Michigan, where each county hosting a main campus benefits from the economic impact of a university.

According to the report, wages and benefits for CMU's 2,707 faculty and staff members total $243.9 million.

In addition, CMU spends $167.5 million on non-payroll items, which include instruction, research and operations. Students, both on and off campus, spend a total of $380.5 million for room and board, books and supplies, apparel and meals and entertainment.

The report does not ignore alumni presence in the state either, estimating about 80 percent of CMU graduates remain in Michigan.

According to Ross, this is a point of pride for the university.

“CMU is truly a statewide university serving students driven to discover and achieve,” he said. “We are proud that 92 percent of our students are from Michigan, and 80 percent remain in the state after graduation."

Alum business owners

Mount Pleasant is home to many CMU alums, and Helen Chase, owner of Trillium Fine Clothing For Women, is just one of many who has remained in the area.

"The most important reason I stayed is that I was working in managing a business that I really valued and had hopes of one day owning, which is what happened," she said.

Chase has owned Trillium, 123 E. Broadway St., for 30 years. She said she values her location in the city largely because of the opportunity the university offers.

"Mount Pleasant has the best of both worlds," she said. "It has small town flavor, but with the university, it also has cultural opportunities that, without CMU, wouldn't be there. Being a university town, it offers more than what a normal small town would offer. A good share of my business is attributable to its university connections, and I appreciate the university-connected business I have."

Sarah Christensen, general manager at Greentree Grocery, located at 214 N. Franklin St., graduated from CMU in December 2012 and decided to stick around because she felt settled.

In her every day interactions with people at work, she said she comes across a fair amount of CMU alums.

"We have a few employees (at Greentree) who are CMU alumni, and in other organizations that I'm a part of, I run across people who went to CMU, too, and seemed to stick around," Christensen said.

In terms of the university's economic presence in town, Christensen said it's helpful to all local businesses.

"Really, any business in Mount Pleasant is benefiting from the university's presence due to the sheer number of people drawn to the town because of CMU," she said.

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