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$3.2 Billion in 50 years: USF makes huge impact on Tampa Bay regional economy.

Fifty years ago, a savvy group of Tampa Bay citizens raised $50,000 to plan a new university.

In 2004, the University of South Florida generated a $3.2 billion economic impact on the Tampa Bay region, including Sarasota-Manatee.

"The people of Tampa made a savvy investment in 1956, and it is one that will continue to pay powerful dividends," said USF President Judy Genshaft.

As USF celebrates its 50th year in 2006, President Genshaft has established a goal of becoming one of the Top 50 public research universities in the country.

"The University of South Florida, through its four campuses, continues to exert a profound impact on the Tampa Bay region, both economically and in quality of life," said Genshaft. "Our success has exceeded expectations."

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus just completed a yearlong celebration of its 30th anniversary. The impact on the local economy is significant, especially in light of the new, $26.5 million campus center that is currently under construction. "The new USF campus is going to be even more visible evidence of the impact USF has in our local community," said Laurey Stryker, Campus CEO.

The economic impact is measured by compiling student spending, payroll, financial aid, construction and research dollars. Named as one of the two fastest growing research universities in the United States by the National Science Foundation, USF researchers have been awarded more than $343 million in funding in the past year. The University is a national leader in research into the causes and treatments Alzheimer's Disease as well as the fields of search-and-rescue robotics and biodefense.

The regional economy is stimulated by activities in the recently expanded Research Park on the Tampa campus, where researchers work with local businesses to develop new technologies in the biosciences and life sciences, as well as in engineering and information. Construction was completed in 2005 at a cost of $42.9 million. The 230,000 square feet provides local businesses and entrepreneurs with space and access to world-class researchers and expensive, high-tech equipment in shared laboratories. USF Connect provides business services such as marketing, strategic planning and workforce development.

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University programs such as the nationally ranked number one Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Program also provides the region with a highly educated and skilled workforce. Forbes magazine recently rated the Tampa Bay area as the top locations for technology-related jobs in Florida, largely because of the graduates from USF's engineering and computer sciences programs. More than 80,000 of the University's graduates reside in the Tampa Bay region.

The University currently has more than 42,000 students engaged in undergraduate and graduate studies on its Tampa campus and three regional campuses, including the 3,400 enrolled in Sarasota-Manatee. As the fourth largest employer in the area, USF has an annual payroll expenditure of $1.2 billion. The purchasing power of USF-generated personal income is felt in every sector of the local economy, from retail to banking to construction.

"A great university and its hometown are inseparable," Genshaft said. "Our regional campuses focus entirely on their communities' needs."

Construction on all four campuses is continuing at a strong pace as the University keeps up with demands for student housing, new classrooms and research facilities. "The building boom is in response to demand," said Richard Beard III, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

By ANN BLACK, Voss and Associates Staff
Total Economic Impact

Financial Aid $597,167,864
State Funding $155,830,369
USF Operations $635,613,821
Student Spending $28,248,094
Research Funding $343,988,109
Faculty & Staff Payroll $1,220,381,394
Construction $206,380,901

Artwork by Andy Eggebrecht, AE Design Group

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Article Details
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Author:Black, Ann
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:614
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