East magazine Fall 2007 edition
Cover Story

ECU casts a $3 billion shadow
undefinedA new study concludes that East Carolina University contributes $3 billion a year to the regional economy, an impact that has ballooned by 50 percent in the past six years. The study determined that the university, its employees, students and visitors inject a total of $1.3 billion into the regional economy annually and that each of those dollars turn over 2.3 times in a ripple effect across the region.

The study by Mulatu Wubneh, chair of the ECU Planning Department, is an update of a similar one he performed in 2000. In that initial research, he concluded that ECU’s impact on the regional economy was almost $2 billion a year. The update is based on figures for 2006, the last year for which complete data was available.

As an example of how the university’s sheer presence ripples across eastern North Carolina, Wubneh noted that 70 percent of ECU students live off campus. That’s thousands of young people renting apartments, buying groceries, seeing movies, eating at restaurants, buying gas. Boosted by that strong demand, stores hire more workers, who in turn rent apartments, buy groceries, etc.

East Carolina employs more than 5,000 people, including 1,700 faculty members, and is the second-largest employer in Pitt and surrounding counties. Pitt Memorial hospital, the teaching hospital for the Brody School of Medicine, is the area’s largest employer with more than 6,000 workers.

Wubneh said the figures also show that ECU is a good value for all of North Carolina in that it multiplied the $219 million in state appropriations received in 2006 into a $1.3 billion economic footprint covering the region.