Blog Posts

Portage County Farmers Market

UW-Stevens Point’s economic impact tops $670 million annually

By Portage County Business Council

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s economic impact on the region and state is vast and growing.

With the addition of branch campuses in Marshfield and Wausau, UW-Stevens Point contributes $671.3 million annually to Wisconsin’s economy, according to a study by NorthStar Analytics, Sturgeon Bay. The firm updated a 2015 comprehensive economic impact study, including all three UW-Stevens Point locations for the first time.

The economic impact of the Stevens Point campus grew from $420.2 million to $584 million in those four years. The impact the Marshfield and Wausau campuses are $35.9 million and $50.7 million, respectively.

Every $1 of state tax investment in UW-Stevens Point generates $18.28 in economic activity in the state. This also increased since 2015, when $1 of state tax investment generated $11 in economic activity by the university’s main campus in Stevens Point. Every $1 in state tax investment at the Wausau campus generated $42, and at Marshfield, $21 in economic impact.

“This report confirms that UW-Stevens Point’s three locations are huge economic drivers in Wisconsin,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson. “This is good news for our university, the state and central Wisconsin.”

With the addition of the Marshfield and Wausau campuses, UW-Stevens Point generates $40.9 million in state and local tax revenue annually, up from $21.2 million in 2015. This shows the university is a major revenue contributor to local and state government.

The economic impact is based on two sources: direct spending by faculty, staff, students and visitors and spending on university operations; and indirect and induced spending. The latter reflects how subsequent spending ripples through the regional economy, supporting other businesses and creating jobs as it cycles through.

“Direct spending of nearly $313.2 million feeds the economic engine that in turn generates more than $358.2 million in additional economic activity,” NorthStar Analytics wrote in a report released today.

More than one-third of the spending is generated by faculty and staff members. Students contribute 16%, and visitors contribute nearly 21%. Spending on university operations makes up 28%.

Private businesses benefit the most, as 92 percent of economic impact generated by UW-Stevens Point activities goes directly to private business. Local governments and nonprofit organizations also benefit.

UW-Stevens Point supports 6,321 jobs on campuses and throughout central and northern Wisconsin, according to the report. The university employs 1,868 faculty and staff members at its three locations. An additional 3,496 jobs in the region and state are created by employee, student and visitor spending. Spending on university operations generates 957 jobs in regional and state businesses.

The $40.9 million in state and local tax revenue is based on state income, sales and property taxes paid directly by faculty and staff, sales taxes generated by student and visitor spending, and subsequent tax revenue generated by those in jobs created by UW-Stevens Point spending.

Importantly, 92% of graduates remain in Wisconsin three years after completing their degrees. “UW-Stevens Point does a good job of retaining its graduates,” said David Ward, founder of NorthStar Analytics, who presented the report.

Each graduating class generates an economic impact of more than $40 million, the report said. “The most significant immediate impact of a university’s role as a talent engine can be estimated by examining the employment and wage effects of each graduating class,” the report said. Graduates from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 classes at the Stevens Point campus were surveyed within six months of graduation to estimate the impact by number of graduates in each college.

“UW-Stevens Point prepares students for success in life, while propelling our communities as an engine of economic, cultural, educational and social success,” Patterson said.

Find a PDF file of the complete report at