BGSU contributes $3.1B to state economy, economic impact study shows

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Bowling Green State University is an economic engine of northwest Ohio, and across the state, with a $3.1 billion overall impact in fiscal year 2021-22, according to a recent economic impact and investment analysis study. 

Conducted by Lightcast, a leading provider of labor market data to colleges and universities, the study highlights the University’s economic impact, which also includes the significant contributions of BGSU alumni who live and work in Ohio.

“Ohio is fortunate to have a robust ecosystem of educational opportunities that are attracting students to our state and retaining in-state students and alumni, both for their education and careers,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “As a public university for the public good, Bowling Green State University has a responsibility to create good for all of Ohio and this study measures our significant economic impact. In addition to this moment-in-time report, we are steadfast in our work to align our academic programs with Ohio’s workforce needs, both of today and tomorrow, with a long-term impact yet to be realized.”

The University has a number of partnerships with industry and community leaders to expand its academic programs in areas like advanced manufacturing, aviation, healthcare and education.

Return on investment

The Lightcast study measured the contributions of BGSU alumni who live in Ohio, with a focus on the economic return on investment by earning a bachelor’s degree from BGSU. The average bachelor’s degree graduate from BGSU earns an additional $28,600 each year, as compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Ohio. Over a working lifetime, that amounts to $1.2 million in higher earnings per graduate.

Annually, the investment in earning a bachelor’s degree from BGSU has an average internal rate of return of 16%, compared to the U.S. stock market’s 30-year average return of 10.5%, according to Lightcast.

Attracting visitors, employees

Beyond the individual benefits and alumni contributions, the analysis examined the University’s impact to the state’s economy. It tracked tens of thousands of visitors from outside the state who visited Bowling Green during the analysis year to attend Commencement, sporting and arts events and other University-sponsored activities, with a visitor-spending impact of $22.5 million for the state economy in fiscal year 2021-22.

Additionally, as a large-scale employer in Ohio, Lightcast measured BGSU employment, with 5,205 full-time and part-time faculty and staff at the time of the study. Of its employees, 88% live in Ohio and contribute to the state’s economy through household goods, entertainment, transportation and more.

BGSU itself also adds economic value as a large-scale buyer of goods and services. Together, representing the multiplier effects generated by the in-state spending of the University and its employees, BGSU contributed $204.4 million in income to the state during the analysis year.

Student personal spending generated an additional $36.4 million in added income for the state, with money spent on groceries, accommodations, transportation and more. 

Research impact

The University’s research and creative activities also impacted the state’s economy through the University's employment of researchers and purchasing of equipment, creating a total impact of $10.3 million in research spending. Over the last four years, BGSU received 37 invention disclosures, filed 17 new patent applications and produced six licenses.

The Lightcast study was based on several sources, including the fiscal year 2021-22 academic and financial reports from BGSU, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau industry and employment data, Lightcast’s Multi-Regional Social Accounting Matrix model, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior. It applied a conservative methodology and followed standard practice using recognized indicators of economic impact and investment effectiveness.

Updated: 04/20/2023 02:12PM