Editor’s note: The following is part of a weekly series commemorating The University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial Celebration in 2014.
For a century, UTEP’s educational efforts have had a positive impact on the local region. Even before the university was established, local businesses believed in its potential as an economic boon to the region — so much so that 80 business leaders and companies backed the El Paso Chamber of Commerce’s commitment of $50,000 toward the establishment of the State School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1914.
Now, a new report gives further evidence of how much the university contributes to the El Paso-area economy.
“As a border-region research university, UTEP serves as a key economic driver for the El Paso area by providing well-educated graduates; employing thousands of workers; attracting large federal, industry, and foundation grants and contracts; creating innovative technologies and businesses; fostering new business opportunities; incubating new ideas, technologies and processes; and expanding our tax base,” said El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Cindy Ramos-Davidson.
Data in the new report, available online at impact.utep.edu, was collected by UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning (CIERP); by state and national educational research foundations and organizations; and by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI).
Statistics show the University has prepared its alumni to enter the region’s workforce with enhanced skills and leadership abilities, which then translate into increased lifetime incomes and enriched lives and families.
The university also employs thousands of the county’s residents and its annual operations generate revenue for hundreds of regional businesses and industries.
“While it is true that UTEP contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy each year through such measurements as payroll, direct purchasing, use of local contractors and the many more millions that UTEP employees spend in the local economy, the impact of thousands of UTEP graduates entering the local workforce improves the quality of life for all El Pasoans for decades and future generations,” said Richard Dayoub, president and CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
As El Paso’s fifth largest employer, UTEP has created an estimated 6,577 jobs in the region. It also comprises approximately 5.2 percent of the total economy, making it a larger contributor than sectors such as transportation or construction.
In all, UTEP adds $1.3 billion to the county economy each year.
Student volunteer work also has a direct economic impact. During the 2012-13 year, students donated 560,581 hours of service worth an estimated $13.1 million.
Ramos-Davidson pointed out that in addition to its varied array of public and institutional services, UTEP makes many societal contributions as a research university.
“This generates a significant amount of economic activity in our border region at all different market sector levels,” she said.
In any given year, approximately $250 million in sponsored research is underway across campus. Every $1 million of externally funded research at UTEP generates an additional $680,000 of economic activity within El Paso County.
In the end, it all comes back to education and improving quality of life. Dayoub stressed that the University’s importance to the El Paso community cannot just be measured in dollars.
“UTEP’s greatest contribution is hope for the future,” he said.
Lisa Y. Garibay is a writer with UTEP’s University Communications office.
Lisa Garibay is a writer in UTEP's Office of University Communications.