By Alan Hunt
Baylor University's estimated economic impact on the Waco Metropolitan Area economy during the 2002-03 academic year was a staggering $995.5 million.
This sum represents Baylor's combined economic impact during the year of students', visitors', operations' and capital spending on the Waco economy, according to Dr. Tom Kelly, director of Baylor's Center for Business and Economic Research. "
"To put this in perspective," he says, "Baylor was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for 12 percent of last year's total gross sales in McLennan County."
Kelly annually estimates the flow of out-of-county dollars Baylor brings to the local economy and the percentage of those dollars that stay in the local community to support additional spending.
The amount of direct spending derived from out-of-county income turns over several times as local residents-including faculty, staff, local suppliers and contractors-purchase local goods and services. "This results in additional indirect spending, the 'multiplier effect.'" Kelly estimates that the direct and indirect economic impact of spending by out-of-county students and visitors totaled $339.3 million. The estimated direct and indirect economic impact of Baylor operations and capital spending on Waco MSA income during the year totaled $656.2 million. Combining the direct and indirect impacts on the Waco economy of spending by students', visitors', operations' and capital spending generated by Baylor is estimated at $995.5 million.
Kelly points out that his estimates take into account only the items that can be measured in dollar amounts or budget terms and do not include Baylor-sponsored or Baylor-supported events that contribute enormously to the quality of life and the attraction of living in Waco and McLennan County. "These are the intangibles," he says. "One only has to think of the symphony performances, theater productions and other activities that have such an impact on the community."
Baylor is envied by many universities nationwide for the excellent town-gown relationship it has enjoyed with Waco and the Central Texas area - an enduring partnership over the years. As a major university with a growing research program, Baylor attracts high-profile professor-researchers who are involved in projects that provide leading-edge assistance to existing firms. Baylor also attracts industry and innovative commercial enterprises to the area. Students, too, are involved in numerous programs that assist local companies and entrepreneurs. Additionally, they lend their support to community projects and activities.
Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of Baylor's Graduate School, says the faculty and students associated with quality graduate education have considerable local impact. "The Research Triangle in North Carolina or, closer to home, the concentration of high-tech business in Austin is tied to the presence of universities with strong graduate programs," he says. "While both are important, expanding graduate education at Baylor will benefit the Waco economy more than expanding undergraduate education. Businesses like to locate in places where their already college-educated work force can receive graduate training. They like the access to graduate interns and faculty consultants. Colleges and universities in general are great contributors to the local quality of life, but the economic benefits of universities with large and strong graduate programs are exceptionally strong," he says.
"Every community feels blessed when it has at least one economic engine to provide the basis for a strong, stable economy," says Jack Stewart, president and CEO of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. "Waco and McLennan County have several but none has a greater impact than Baylor University. Baylor provides this community with stable, high-quality jobs, educational opportunities and multiple cultural enhancements to our quality of life. The value of Baylor's financial and human capital investment in our community is almost immeasurable."
The University's growing payroll reflects the number of new faculty and staff positions introduced at Baylor each year. In 2002, for example, Baylor's personnel budget has expanded by $9.8 million, or 6.57 percent, to fund 42 new positions (23 faculty and 19 staff) with benefits. Officials estimate more than 450 faculty and staff positions will be added over the course of Baylor 2012 as Baylor prepares to move into Tier 1 status among America's major universities.
A solid endowment remains an essential part of that goal, and the Baylor 2012 Vision solidifies the University's commitment to building an endowment with a corpus of $2 billion by the year 2012. This will enable Baylor to sustain a strong student scholarship program, to create excellence in academic and student life programming, to provide support for key academic chairs and professorships and to enable other goals of Baylor 2012. Through successful fundraising, shrewd asset management and responsible stewardship, Baylor will develop endowed resources on par with some of the nation's top-tier universities.
Additionally, the number of Waco and Central Texas people who work or teach at Baylor constantly strengthens the bond between the University and the community. With nearly 2,050 full- and part-time faculty and staff-a number that continues to grow-Baylor remains one of the two largest employers in the area.
Similarly, the number of people who work for the companies that perform outsourced services for Baylor is on the rise. Another 630 people are employed on campus in dining services, facility services (grounds and building maintenance), housekeeping, mailroom operations and the bookstore.