UAFS Makes $301 Million Economic Impact Annually on Region, Study Finds

paul beran

Chancellor Paul B. Beran presents the university's economic impact study to members of the
Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce March 3.

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has an annual economic impact of more than $300 million on the greater Fort Smith region, according to an economic impact report released by the university based on 2016 fiscal data.


The overall impact consists of $154.8 million in direct spending by UAFS, its employees, students, or those who visit from outside the region, as well as an additional $146.2 million in multiplier effects – the support that direct spending has on various industries in the region. The university’s overall impact provides for more than 1,500 jobs in the greater Fort Smith region and more than $64 million in household income.  


The combined $301 million outpaces the two previous economic impact studies conducted by the university. A study of 2011 financial data found the university’s economic impact to be more than $220 million, and a study with 2008 data found the university generated $169 million in economic activity.


Presenting the plan to the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce at a meeting March 3, Chancellor Paul B. Beran alluded to several factors that bolstered the university’s economic impact on the region.


“In addition to managing a huge influx of students who came to us from 2008-2011 during the economic bust resulting in huge graduating classes, we’ve built buildings to serve students and the community – like the library expansion, Windgate Art & Design, and the Recreation and Wellness Center,” Beran said, also noting the contributions of classroom and laboratory improvements on campus.


An addition to this year’s plan was measuring the impact of the increase in earnings potential by graduates on the local economy. Estimations by Dr. Latisha Settlage, associate dean in the College of Business who conducted the economic impact study, place the university’s annual contribution to the Arkansas workforce at $270 million.


“Over a 10 year period, there is over $2 billion being pushed into the economy from all of our graduates, in addition to the $301 million of direct and indirect impact specifically from the university,” Beran said. “This doesn’t even count one-year and two-year certificate programs for students we put out into the workforce. This only accounts for people with baccalaureate degrees.”


Other ways the university contributes to the local economy include tax impacts – an estimated $7.6 million paid locally and $14.2 million paid federally.


Concluding his presentation, Beran called the university a “great investment” for the greater Fort Smith region.


“I hope I’ve made a case for you that UAFS is a great investment for this community and pays back the community with huge returns,” Beran said. “And that’s what we will continue to have as our goal, is to pay back the community … for our ability to function, to work with you, and to make this community the best it can possibly be.”


About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit


Article by John Post, Director of Public Information
Date Posted: 
Friday, March 3, 2017
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