Florida’s flagship university contributed billions to the state’s economy, and the high numbers are no surprise to some.
The analysis of the 2017-2018 fiscal year shows UF is responsible for more than one percent of the state’s gross domestic product and workforce, as well as more than half of the workforce in Alachua County.
UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences commissioned the report, written by UF faculty Alan W. Hodges, an extension scientist; Caleb A. Stair, a lecturer and Christa D. Court, an assistant professor. Hodges said the UF Office of Government and Community Relations and the Vice President of Research asked for the report.
“Many universities are interested in demonstrating their economic contributions to the region, and routinely do economic studies such as this to get support from local and state government and the private sector,” Hodges wrote in an email.
In total, the university and UF-related entities contributed more than $16 billion to the state economy in that fiscal year. According to U.S. News and World Report, Florida is the ninth-largest economy in the country. UF is also responsible for more than 130,000 full-time and part-time jobs in the state.
Those numbers, “though staggering,” were mostly expected and consistent with the university’s growth, Hodges said.
The statistics collected were compared with numbers from 2014-2015, which is the last time the study was conducted. The report showed increases across the board in categories including industry output, value added, labor income and property tax. The only decrease was in employment, which fell by 0.7 percent.
“I was surprised at the large and growing contributions of the many direct support organizations,” he said.
Direct support organizations, which are private, separate incorporated businesses, such as the University Athletic Association, had the greatest industry output at $8 million. The output is also larger than university operations’ $5 million, which refers to the maintenance and preservation of university assets. It also had the second-most full-time jobs, behind university operations, according to the report.
Zach Torres, a 19-year-old UF economics sophomore, was not shocked by the results of the report.
“With relation to every surrounding city and county, UF practically runs this town,” he said. “Without UF, the population would be a third of what it is now.”
He said UF’s standing as one of the bigger universities in the country explains the numbers.
“It is arguably the most prominent university, think tank or whatever you want to call it, that Florida has to offer,” he said.