New study finds USF’s economic impact rises to more than $6 billion annually


The University of South Florida generates an annual economic impact of $6.02 billion,
according to a new report that analyzes the university’s role in serving as a catalyst
for growth in the Tampa Bay region and state of Florida.  The study provides an in-depth
look in real-dollar terms at USF’s impact across the full scope of the university.

Among the key takeaways, which are based on fiscal year 2019-20 data:

  • USF produces a total economic output of $6.02 billion.
  • Every $1 of state funding invested in USF helps generate more than $14 in economic
  • USF-related direct spending, together with ripple effects, supports 68,704 jobs in
    Florida. Importantly, many of the jobs supported by USF are in high-skill, high-wage,
    knowledge-based industries.
  • USF was awarded a record $535.4 million in research contracts and grants, much in
    applied research that is highly relevant to real-world applications. 
  • With more than 16,000 employees, USF is the 14th largest public employer in Florida.

USF President Rhea Law says the study reaffirms the value of the work being done by
students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“As a major research university that shares a symbiotic relationship with a growing
urban region, the University of South Florida is a powerful engine of prosperity,”
Law said.  “By graduating students who are career-ready, generating knowledge that
addresses our most pressing issues and fostering more inclusive communities, USF contributes
greatly to the vitality and vibrancy of our region and state.”

The report highlights USF’s position as a leader in meeting workforce needs and preparing
students for career success through its nearly 250 degrees programs. The study details
USF’s social impact by creating opportunities for a population that includes approximately
25% of students who are first in their families to go to college and 40% of students
who are eligible for a Pell grant, which is awarded to undergraduates from lower-income
families. USF’s research enterprise is also featured, including more than 2,400 U.S.
patents held by faculty, students, staff and alumni that can help address complex
challenges facing society and lead to new startup companies.

“In this report, the breadth and depth of USF’s economic impact can be seen in all
aspects of the university’s operations – from the students it educates, to the faculty
and professional staff it employs, to the talented professional and entrepreneurs
who power a modern innovation economy, to the construction projects that shaped the
campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee,” the executive summary notes.

The study, which was compiled by a team of faculty and students from the Muma College
of Business, is available here.  An interactive website that tells more of the stories of how USF makes an impact
and creates opportunities can be viewed here.

What others are saying about USF’s impact:

J.P. DuBuque, president and CEO of the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development
“USF is uniquely positioned to address some of the main challenges facing our communities,
including the need for more collaboration across the Tampa Bay region to attract new
businesses and the growing demand to produce a more skilled workforce.  With three
campuses spread over multiple counties, USF is poised to take an active role in tackling
these issues by helping local leaders think more regionally and pushing the envelope
to offer programs tailored to employer needs.  In St. Petersburg, USF’s programs line
up well with our Grow Smarter industries of marine and life sciences, financial services,
data analytics, specialized manufacturing, and creative art and design. Through USF’s
focus on innovation, the university also strengthens and influences other organizations
like the St. Pete Innovation District and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which support
entrepreneurship and job creation.”

Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp: “The University of South Florida is a major community asset in attracting and retaining
companies and talent to Manatee County.  The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus leadership
is focused on tailoring programs to address workforce development needs of the region’s
employers in areas such as hospitality, insurance, healthcare, entrepreneurship and

Lisa Krouse, CEO of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation: “USF has been instrumental in producing talent throughout various industry sectors
from financial, accounting, insurance, hospitality, nursing and others. USF plays
a vital role in producing strong talent for our local economy.  Their business partnerships
thrive because it has contributed to the incredible success that has been seen by
businesses in our community.  The university has had an especially big role in diversifying
our economy with its intentional focus on partnering with businesses and paying close
attention to our local labor needs. Working together with the community, USF has provided
trained professionals in nursing as well as other industry sectors, which has been
a huge driver for our economy. Their production of local talent can’t be understated.”

Craig Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council: “Technology has long been a target industry of the Tampa Bay EDC, but over the past
few years we’ve seen a steady increase in interest from tech CEOs, particularly in
the sectors of cybersecurity, fintech and health tech, who are discovering that Tampa
is an ideal place to grow their companies.  Access to a highly skilled pool of talent,
fueled by USF’s strong pipeline of diverse technical talent, is the leading factor
attracting tech CEOs and companies to our area.”

Bemetra Simmons, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership: “The University of South Florida is a major economic driver for the entire Tampa
Bay region, producing a pipeline of talent for our workforce and impacting innovation
through research and technology licensing. In 2017, we partnered with the USF Muma
College of Business to launch the State of the Region initiative. Together, we produce
the annual State of the Region community event and a collection of complementary research
projects to help our community leaders understand Tampa Bay’s strengths and weaknesses,
how we compare to communities across the country, and what’s needed to move the needle
on our greatest challenges.”


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