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The University Center at Humboldt State University. | File photo by Lauren Shea

Report Details HSU’s Impacts

Looking into ICF International's report on HSU's economic impact.

Looking into ICF International’s report on HSU’s economic impact

According to a recent ICF International report, Humboldt State University generates over $567 million in annual industry activity.

ICF International, a global consulting firm based in Virginia, previously studied California State Universities in 2010. ICF uses a model that tracks HSU institutional, student and alumni spending and then calculates the resultant impact.

The report splits HSU spending into three categories: operational, auxiliary and capital.

HSU spent $166 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year on operational expenses, which includes instruction, research, public service, academic support and student services.

HSU spent $26 million on auxiliary expenses, which includes the bookstore, campus restaurants and research institutes. $16 million went to dining services while about $10 million was spent on parking and housing.

HSU spent $5.5 million on capital expenses, which includes construction and renovations. The report said HSU expects to spend $33 million on capital projects over the next two years.

“University expenditures supported a total of 3,920 jobs in Humboldt County, as well as over $96 million in labor income and more than $293 million in industry activity,” the report said.

To reach the final figure of $567 million of industry activity, the report includes $70 million of student spending and $207 million of regional alumni impact.

“ICF used the average “Cost of Attendance” estimates from the HSU Financial Aid Office to calculate the total student spending impact,” the report said.

The report calls the alumni impact figure conservative, as it does not account for California’s relatively high wages in comparison with the rest of the country.

“California wages tend to be higher than the national average,” the report said. “In 2017, California real per capita income was approximately $2,650 dollars higher than the U.S. national average.”

The report says 58,000 HSU alumni are still in the workforce, while 23% of alumni live in Humboldt County.

“In 2017-18, HSU degree holders living in Humboldt County earned $973 million in wages,” the report said. “HSU degree holders statewide earned more than $3 billion.”

The most comparable CSUs in terms of student population are CSU Channel Islands, CSU Monterey Bay and Sonoma State University. While the locations of each of these universities makes them significantly different, HSU appears on par when compared.

In terms of regional impact, HSU placed second out of the four aforementioned CSUs of comparable student population size.

The CSU website lists summaries of each CSU’s economic impact, as recorded in the previous 2010 ICF analysis.

In terms of regional impact, HSU placed second out of the four aforementioned CSUs of comparable student population size.

In 2010, CSU Channel Islands generated $114 million of regional impact from $135.5 million of spending. CSU Monterey Bay generated $133 million of regional impact from $155 million of spending. HSU generated $190 million of regional impact from $232 million of spending. Sonoma State generated $330 million of regional impact from $213 million of spending.

The new ICF report was conducted only on HSU, so it’s not known whether HSU remains on pace with other CSUs.

“It should be noted that the previous study’s methodology is not directly comparable to the current study,” the report said.

The report includes benefits beyond direct economic impacts, such as research, small business development and contributions to the community and local education.

Most of the report’s findings in these extra-economic areas appear to have data behind them. However, the report includes public radio station KHSU as one of HSU’s contributions to the community.

“Through its innovative, high quality programming, KHSU hopes to educate, enrich, enlighten, and entertain its listeners on local, national, and international issues,” the report said.

HSU abruptly fired all seven KHSU employees last April, citing a need for reorganization and streamlining. KHSU is run by one employee under a short-term agreement lasting until the end of October.

Nevertheless, HSU’s impact on the surrounding community appears significant, even in the midst of an enrollment decline.

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