SU contributes more than $480 million annually to economy

Salisbury University’s impact on the Eastern Shore economy is approaching a half-billion dollars annually and supports almost 3,300 local jobs, according to a recently released 2016 economic impact study.


The university adds nearly $80 million each year to local, state and federal coffers from taxes generated by this activity.

With a community of some 10,500 students, faculty and staff, SU has had an increasingly positive impact on the area economy, growing by some $130 million in the last decade.

A steady, planned increase in student population; hiring of new faculty and staff; and a dynamic reconfiguration of the physical campus with several notable construction projects have been hallmarks of the expansion.

According to BEACON, the Business, Economic And Community Outreach Network, which conducted the recent study and also one a decade ago, SU currently generates a $480.5 million annual local economic impact and supports 3,287 jobs. In 2005 the local impact was $351 million, supporting the equivalent of 3,000 jobs.

The growth has come during the tenure of President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, now in her 16th year, the longest serving woman president in the history of the University System of Maryland.

Said Dudley-Eshbach: “This study reaffirms the positive contribution the University makes to our region and beyond. The strong partnerships between the campus and the greater community are also, I think, celebrated with these numbers.  SU would not have the reputation or success it enjoys without its community partners and supporters. The university will continue to do all it can to help our students, region and state prosper.”

Along with Perdue Farms, Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Wicomico County’s government, SU is one of the county’s biggest employers.

In the study, BEACON used the IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) economic impact assessment software system originally developed by the University of Minnesota and U.S. Forest Service.

The IMPLAN model includes all economic effects when calculating total output/employment. This includes direct, indirect and induced (ripple-effect) impacts.

SU has nearly 8,700 students and a payroll of some 1,800 full- and part-time faculty and staff. With nationally ranked academics and athletics, cultural offerings and internationally known events like the Sea Gull Century bicycle ride, the campus attracts thousands of visitors annually.  The study calculated economic impact from several categories including operations, construction, student spending locally, visitor spending locally, an educated workforce, outreach and entrepreneurship activities.

The biggest single impact is the University’s $165.2 million annual operating budget. When a multiplier effect is taken into consideration, with funds being re-spent in the local economy on goods and services, each dollar in operational monies at SU results in total economic activity of $1.46 in the region.

The overall local economic impact then rises to more than $240 million.

The economic impact of student spending is $90 million.

New construction projects at SU in the past 16 years also have had a major impact of some $535.7 million (an average of $33.5 million annually), supporting approximately 1,700 total jobs, according to the study.

These have included the Scarborough Leadership Center, Henson Science Hall, the Teacher Education and Technology Center, the Wayne Street Parking Garage, Sea Gull Square, Perdue Hall, the Henson Medical Simulation Center, Sea Gull Stadium and the Guerrieri Academic Commons.

An estimated $112 million in additional funding is brought to the region by an SU-educated workforce, outreach programs and entrepreneurship activities. This includes $94 million in lifetime earnings per graduating class, assuming conservatively that 10 percent of SU alumni remain in the region after graduation.

Local business and political leaders commented on the news concerning the university’s financial impact and its deep connections to the community:

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan

“The relationship between Ocean City and Salisbury University is very strong and very beneficial to our tourism industry and local economy.  The students of the university are a reliable resource to our business community, filling hundreds of job openings in our resort year-round.  In addition, many students find themselves staying in the area with job prospects beyond graduation, adding to the success and growth of Ocean City and the Eastern Shore.”

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day

“With nearly 9,000 students and 2,000 faculty and staff, Salisbury University has an unquestionably positive impact on our city.  Salisbury University graduates over 2,000 bright, talented, young entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and scientists into the world every year, representing nothing less than the future of this community.  Salisbury’s ongoing renaissance, creating a vibrant, cool place for these young minds to establish themselves in the world, is part of the symbiotic relationship that indeed makes us Maryland’s Coastal College Town.”

Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development Director David Ryan

“Salisbury University has long enhanced the stability of our local and regional economy, and its stature as an economic engine continues to grow along with the campus itself. With all four schools privately endowed by entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well as perhaps best demonstrated by the University’s well-known business plan competitions and the resulting new business formations that help drive our economy forward. Add to that the cultural amenities found both on and off campus, the University’s presence can be seen and felt throughout our region.”

Greater Salisbury Committee CEO Mike Dunn

“Salisbury University is an invaluable asset to this community and to this region.

These numbers are impressive and important. They help quantify the overall contribution that SU makes to this community, as an economic development engine, as a jobs provider and as a major contributor to our collective intellectual capital. The work of the Greater Salisbury Committee over the years has been enhanced greatly by our continued partnership with SU on issues of importance to the community, and we salute the work of one of those partners, Dr. Memo Diriker, for putting these numbers together for all to see. Congratulations, and thank you, SU.”

Dr. Peggy Naleppa, President/CEO, Peninsula Regional Health System

“Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Salisbury University have enjoyed a strong, vibrant, personal, professional and productive relationship ever since SU was founded in 1925.  It’s one that I am extremely proud to continue to advocate and foster.

“Like siblings, our two institutions truly have helped one another to become stronger and to define all that is good and promising for the people of the Delmarva Peninsula.  We’ve stood together and we’ve championed a number of initiatives, and members of SU’s faculty have and currently do provide governance on our Board of Trustees.

“However, perhaps none of our partnerships is more important than our combined commitment to healthcare, from both the clinical and the business schools.  Much of our healthcare safety net has been woven by Salisbury University graduates who began their careers with clinical rotations at our Medical Center and have—fortunately for us—chosen to establish and, in many cases, retire from their careers here.

“I am particularly pleased because such large numbers of SU’s nursing, respiratory therapy, medical technology, exercise science, computer science and business graduates have been and continue to be essential to Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s ability to meet the expanding healthcare needs of our region.

“Salisbury University’s ability to start and expand critical clinical academic programs will enable us to continue to meet those health care needs into the future.  And, as we grow beyond our campus to enrich the lives of everyone across our population health initiatives, a strong and reliable partner in Salisbury University is key to our success.

“Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach and I share a number of philosophies, and at the top of that list are two beliefs that are as near and dear to us as anything … to never stop learning and to always inspire as a servant leader.

“I’m honored to say that our team has given back as professors, lecturers and mentors, while  Salisbury University faculty have returned that favor, helping us to strengthen our leaders though a continuing series of conflict resolution and leadership building courses and seminars. We are privileged to have such a visionary leader and a forward-thinking University just down the road.

“We’re blessed to have Salisbury University as a partner for ‘life.’”

Bill Wrobel, Director, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

”Salisbury University is an asset to Salisbury and the Eastern Shore of Maryland from both an economic and cultural perspective. The University’s commitment to educating at the highest levels provides a constant stream of graduates entering the local and regional workforce.  NASA Wallops Flight Facility has benefited from the knowledge and research capabilities of the staff, faculty and students at Salisbury University.”

Renée M. Winsky, President and CEO, Leadership Maryland

“The economic impact of Salisbury University to the Eastern Shore of Maryland is profoundly significant and eloquently pronounced in this study. While everyone at SU should be proud of their regional impact, they also should be proud of their broader impact to our state, the nation and beyond. Academic excellence, innovative teaching and learning, an emphasis on research, and abundant opportunities for students to engage with the private sector, study abroad and participate in the local community are embedded in SU’s culture—a culture whose impact goes far beyond Camden Avenue.”

Kim Gillis, Chair of the Board of Directors, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce and SU Alumna

“Salisbury University significantly improves the quality of life in Salisbury and throughout the Eastern Shore region in numerous regards, as evidenced once again by the latest economic impact study. As a proud Salisbury University graduate who chose to stay in Salisbury to build my career upon graduation, I am well aware of the influence Salisbury University has on our community and region. The University’s impact on our economy, as well as its contribution to providing highly educated and well prepared students in the workforce directly benefits area businesses. Additionally, the University injects a positive energy and youthful spirit into our community through many cultural and community outreach initiatives.”


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