Analysis finds UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care Medical Center contribute over $7 billion to North Carolina economy

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Analysis finds UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care Medical Center contribute
over $7 billion to North Carolina economy

 Study finds UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Medical Center are a major driver of the state’s growth



(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Feb. 18, 2015)— A new study analyzing the economic impact of UNC System institutions reveals the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care Medical Center together added $7.1 billion to North Carolina’s economy in fiscal year 2013 – an amount representing nearly 100,000 jobs in the state.


The analysis is part of a larger study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) on the impact of all institutions of higher education in North Carolina. Its findings, which include the impact of UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care Medical Center, were released today (Feb. 18).


The two institutions send ripples of spending through North Carolina’s economy and stimulate additional economic activity through the purchase of goods and services by salaried employees, the procurement of new equipment and supplies needed for state-of-the-art research and clinical activities, and the influx of money from the students and visitors the University attracts each year.


Additional economic impact comes also from the infusion of income and jobs into the economy from University construction, new inventions and patents, the creation of startup businesses, and the long-term benefit brought by UNC-Chapel Hill’s highly skilled alumni, many of whom work in the state.


“This study illustrates how critical UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC Health Care Medical Center are to the prosperity of our state,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “All the UNC system universities provide tremendous value in different ways, and we all have wonderful stories to tell. This analysis underscores the large economic benefit that comes to our state from having great universities.”


UNC Health Care Medical Center, with 805 inpatient beds and nearly 1.4 million clinical visits, provided state-of-the-art care to more than 37,000 North Carolina residents during the measured year. The salaries and purchases of UNC Health Care Medical Center added $2 billion to the state’s economy, representing 24,000 additional full-time jobs.


“At a time when North Carolina’s health care needs are rising and the number of physicians is plummeting, our economic impact cannot be underestimated,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, Dean, UNC School of Medicine and CEO, UNC Health Care System. “Because of UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, patients across the state can connect with world-class treatment, education and research. As the state’s flagship health care system, we are ensuring a brighter future for all of our communities across all of our state.”


The $7.1 billion added to North Carolina’s economy in fiscal year 2013 can be attributed to the economic impact from the University ($5.1 billion) and the UNC Medical Center ($2 billion). The University’s contributions include: operations ($1 billion), research ($992.5 million), construction ($56.5 million), start-ups that license University technology ($179 million), students ($54.9 million), visitors ($130 million) and alumni ($2.6 billion).


The EMSI analysis also documented the economic impact of the University’s culture of research, innovation and entrepreneurship. More than 150 North Carolina businesses got their start at UNC-Chapel Hill. Today, they employ nearly 8,000 people in the state and 35,000 worldwide. The study found these businesses provide a nearly $1.6 billion boost to the state’s economy annually – an amount representing an additional 15,111 jobs. Spinouts that license technology from UNC-Chapel Hill accounted for $179 million of the total, while businesses like Quintiles Transnational that emerged without technology licenses from the work of University faculty or students made up the remaining $1.4 billion.


“These numbers demonstrate the value of creating a culture of entrepreneurship, investing in research, and supporting new technology and startup businesses,” said Judith Cone, the chancellor’s advisor for innovation and entrepreneurship and UNC-Chapel Hill’s interim vice chancellor for commercialization and economic development.


UNC-Chapel Hill faculty secured more than $790 million in new research contracts and grants in fiscal year 2013, up nearly $15 million from the previous year, and Chancellor Folt recently announced the creation of a new venture fund to help early stage startups overcome funding gaps and translate research into business opportunities.


UNC General Administration commissioned the analysis on behalf of all UNC system universities and their medical centers. It is part of the first large-scale study of how North Carolina’s institutions of higher education add value to the state’s economy. EMSI used a conservative methodology to demonstrate the impact of state universities, computing the value of alternative uses of funds being spent on university operations and subtracting that from total institutional impact. The result is an accounting of the unique and added economic benefits attributable to investments in higher education.


EMSI is an economic modeling firm that turns labor market data into useful information that reveals the connection between major enterprises, the economy, people and employment. The UNC system report can be found at





Contact: Don Hobart, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, (919) 843-0052,