KENT: A new report shows Kent State University has an annual economic impact of more than $3 billion.

Kent State University President Beverly Warren released the study — by EY, formerly Ernst & Young — after a private breakfast with city and university leaders Monday morning.

“The results of this independent report show that Kent State University not only transforms the lives of our students, but also elevates the quality of life across the entire Northeast Ohio region,” Warren said in a news release.

The report says the university’s “direct financial impact” on an 18-county Northeast Ohio area is more than $1 billion annually. Coupled with alumni earnings in the region, Kent State contributes nearly $3.4 billion to the region’s economy each year.

The report explains Kent’s 92,300 alumni in Northeast Ohio earn $2.4 billion more than they would have without degrees.

Warren noted at a news conference that the economic impact report comes as KSU trustees plan to vote next week on a $1 billion-plus, 10-year “transformation” plan to overhaul the main Kent campus.

The makeover would include a host of new and renovated buildings and lots more green space, as well as bike trails and walkways.

The report comes midway through a strategic-planning process that was OK’d by trustees in 2015 and runs through 2021, and as Kent continues its “quiet phase” of what it has billed as its largest fundraising campaign ever.

“We have to raise funds to realize all of the aspirations we have for this university,” Warren said.

The fundraising effort — launched in 2016 — is expected to run through 2021. The university has not disclosed a goal. Warren indicated the amount would be revealed during the “public phase,” which likely will begin in fall 2019.

The most recent comprehensive fundraising effort — the Centennial Campaign from 2003-2012 — raised $265 million, exceeding a $250 million goal.

Alum state workforce

The economic impact study looked at fiscal year data 2017 across the 18 counties, including Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Wayne. The study cost $81,330, KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield said.

EY looked at five categories: university operations expenses, the school’s capital expenditures, visitor and student spending and alumni earnings.

KSU, with seven regional campuses, is the third-largest university in the state. Systemwide enrollment totaled 39,367 last fall.

Included in the $3.4 billion in KSU’s direct, indirect and “induced” annual economic impact are approximately 11,800 jobs, including 6,500 KSU employees and 5,300 other jobs supported by the university, its capital projects (such as construction workers) and the spending of its students and visitors.

The report says these approximately 11,800 workers earned more than $550 million annually, and more than $1.1 billion of economic output for the region is generated by the income from these jobs.

KSU’s economic annual impact grows to $3.8 billion, the report says, with 109,000 alumni living across Ohio.

The alumni earnings include income from the 42 percent of Northeast Ohio’s nurses who earned their degrees at Kent State, the report says.

More than 700 licensed teachers in Northeast Ohio are KSU graduates, as well as thousands of other employees — including pilots, podiatrists, journalists, architects, researchers, chemists.

Campus, city updates

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller joined Warren at the news conference. Ruller praised the university’s work with the city to make over the city’s downtown, and Warren noted that the city-university partnership will continue as the school moves forward on its $1 billion campuswide makeover plan.

The first phase of the makeover plan — with an estimated cost of $220.8 million — includes the addition of a new College of Business Administration Building and a parking deck.

The city will need to work with the state to fulfill the vision of turning Main Street into a boulevard that welcomes people to the university as well as the city, Warren said.

In addition, the city and the university plan to collaborate to create an “innovation space,” where Kent entrepreneurs can work with students.

“A distant vision ... but I hope we can pull it off,” Warren said, involves working with the city to create intergenerational housing for students, retirees and faculty members.

Such housing could help to attract talent to the university as it seeks to grow its research profile, university officials have said.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook at www.facebook.com