Penn State Intercom......April 18, 2002

Report highlights University
as national leader in
statewide economic development

By Tysen Kendig
Public Information

A new book by Southern Growth Policies Board researchers spells out in detail the practices, policies and cultures relating to state and local economic development of 12 leading national universities, including Penn State. Innovation U.: New University Roles in a Knowledge Economy provides a detailed look at how some of the best universities in the nation are helping to build local and regional economies, according to Jim Clinton, Southern Growth's executive director.

The universities detailed in the book were selected in early 2000 through a poll of about 40 top economic development experts from around the country. They were asked to identify universities that were innovative, influential and significant in their economic-development activities.

Through a series of case studies, Innovation U. explores how these universities are engines of growth for their local and state economies. The universities have a deep and broad impact on economic growth through research, technical assistance to industry, job training, job placement, partnerships, technology transfer and other activities.

"Penn State is honored to be included among such exclusive company of institutions that are making invaluable contributions to their local and state economies," said President Graham B. Spanier. "As Pennsylvania's only land-grant institution, the University has long recognized the importance of contributing to the Commonwealth's economic growth, as well as our role in driving growth on local and regional levels."

Penn State employs more than 20,000 men and women at 24 campus locations statewide and at outreach offices and centers in all 67 Pennsylvania counties -- a workforce that receives more than $1.2 billion annually in wages and benefits. These people bring the resources of the University to virtually every Pennsylvania resident, with outreach and cooperative extension alone reaching approximately 2 million Pennsylvanians each year. Furthermore, more than 200,000 Penn State graduates continue to reside and work in the commonwealth.

The direct economic impact of the University Park campus alone is estimated at more than $500 million each year. Nearly 14,000 jobs statewide can be attributed to Penn State's more than $470 million research program each year -- not including thousands more that are created or saved as a result of technologies developed at the University and transferred to the private sector. In addition, Penn State has sharpened the competitive edge of thousands of Pennsylvania businesses and helped to generate more than 400 new companies. The University has helped more than 25,000 entrepreneurs, small businesses, and governmental bodies solve a variety of problems, producing $250 million in economic benefits since 1965.

The 11 other universities profiled along with Penn State include: Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, University of California at San Diego, University of Utah, Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University.

The three authors -- Lou Tornatzky, Paul Waugaman and Denis O. Gray -- collected masses of documents and conducted interviews to understand these universities' practices and procedures. Their project was funded by the National Science Foundation.

The book's intended readers include federal research funding agencies, university leadership, state legislators, university governing boards, leaders of technology-based industry, state and regional economic development leaders, private foundations and university faculty.

Innovation U. is the latest in a series of research reports examining how universities are involved in economic-development activities. Earlier reports have benchmarked technology transfer and looked at the migration patterns of recent science, technology and engineering graduates.

Innovation U. was guided by the Southern Technology Council, Southern Growth's technology policy advisory body, which includes representatives of state government, private industry, economic development agencies and universities from 14 Southern states. The Southern Technology Council is chaired by Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

The Southern Growth Policies Board develops and advances policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among Southern governors, legislators and stakeholders from business, academia and the economic- and community-development sectors.