University of North Alabama releases economic impact study

FLORENCE, Ala. – How much impact does the University of North Alabama have on the northwest Alabama economy?

The numbers from a seven-month long study have been released, and are sort of surprising.

Doug Barrett is a numbers guy. He and a team of economists at UNA just completed an impact study.

They charted university, employee, and student spending over the 2015-2016 academic year.

The team then looked at the earnings as a result of the university, almost $400-million.

“Some of that is based on the economy, some of that on the surveys. So, I won’t say that it was exceptionally surprising but it was a little higher than we anticipated,” explained Barrett, with the UNA Department of Economics and Finance.

The report gets pretty technical. Under spending, UNA employees and students spend $125 million a year to live in the Shoals.

Dr. Doug Barrett, UNA Department of Economics and Finance

As for job impacts, UNA accounts for $60 million of payroll across northwest Alabama. An impact which reaches beyond campus.

“If you look at areas when they are ranked based on livability and attractiveness to potential firms looking to relocate, having a university is looked at as an extremely positive piece,” Barrett stated.

So after crunching all the numbers, Barrett said UNA has an economic impact of $316 million on the Shoals each year.

The economic team also looked at the impact the university’s football team has on the area. During the 2016 season, $4.2 million was generated within the community.