Thompson Rivers University contributed $705 million to the regional economy last year and $1.5 billion provincially, according to a report developed for the post-secondary institution.
TRU has released the results of its latest economic impact study, which indicates 9,670 jobs (one in nine) in the Thompson, Nicola and Cariboo region and 17,437 across the province (one in 150) are supported by the activities of the university and its students.
TRU contracted Economic Modelling Specialist Intl. (Emsi), a labour market analytics firm, to assess its economic impact on the region, using data from the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Emsi consultant Susan Hackett presented its findings to a group gathered at the Campus Activity Centre on Wednesday.
The economic impact analysis takes into account three main impacts — operational spending, student spending and the impact of alumni working in the region.
Hackett Hackett described Emsi’s methodology as using a Canadian regional input-output proprietary model that measures how industries interact with each other and how multiplier effects are created.
Hacket described the ripple, or multiplier, effects to those attending the presentation.
“TRU pays its employees and the employees then have their paycheques to go out and buy groceries,” she said.
“And grocery stores now have more money to restock their shelves, pay their workers and then their suppliers and their workers spend that money, so it keeps rippling throughout — and that’s a major contributor to the economic impact.”
The university is one of Kamloops’ largest employers, with 1,263 full-time employees on a payroll of $129.1 million, according to the report. The university also spent $72.8 million on day-to-day expenses related to facilities, supplies and professional services.
The net impact of the university’s operations spending was calculated as adding $169.7 million in income to the region — $160.7 million provincially.
“You’ll notice that the regional impact is actually larger than the provincial impact in this case — and that’s because there is more outside money coming to the region than to the province,” Hackett said. “A lot of TRU spending is provincial, so that adds a lot of value locally.”
The study calculated student spending in 2018-2019 as adding $45.9 million in income to the regional economy — about half of which is attributable to international students specifically.
The university had an international student population of 5,615 that fiscal year.
Hackett said the study looked at two types of students — those from outside the region who relocated to attend TRU and those who were retained in the area because TRU exists.
“We didn’t consider the spending of all TRU students because we can’t attribute the spending of every single student to TRU,” Hackett said, noting non-locals students bring with them spending on things such as groceries, rent and transportation, helping the regional economy.
Provincially, the student spending impact was calculated as $99.7 million in income to the B.C. economy.
The net impact of TRU’s former students employed in the regional workforce amounted to $489.7 million in added income in the region — nearly 70 per cent of the $705 million figure.
“We estimate the number of alumni that are actively working using various measures of attrition. We use location data from the B.C. Student Outcomes Survey and then we quantify the value of each student’s education,” Hackett said.
“It’s a very intricate calculation, but it gets us to these very significant results.”
Provincially, the alumni impact is calculated as $1.2 billion.
The study is the first TRU has commissioned since 2013.
TRU vice-president of finance and administration Matt Milovick said when the last economic impact study was conducted six years ago, TRU’s revenues were about $163 million, but today that number is approaching $230 million.
“Clearly, the impacts that this institution has on this community is significant, even if only measured in those terms,” Milovick said.
“By measuring our impact as we’ve done … we can gain a much clearer picture of our impact and I would say of our value,” TRU president Brett Fairbairn told the crowd, adding the region has greater “human, social and cultural capital” because the university exists.