CEDAR FALLS — The board that governs Iowa’s three public universities has released a study which indicates the institutions provide an economic spark to the state. Consultant Hannah Ruffridge told the board yesterday that her firm estimate the three schools accounted for 6.2% of the state’s gross domestic product in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“It’s also equivalent to supporting almost 150,000 jobs,” Ruffridge said. “Another way to say this — and my personal favorite — is one out of every 14 jobs in this state is in some way supported by the activities of the universities and their students.”

Ruffridge said the analysis of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa shows there was a nearly three dollar return for each state tax dollar spent on the three campuses. The three universities added $1.9 billion to total state income during the 2017-2018 academic year as well, according to Ruffridge.

“Measuring that money that is staying in the state of Iowa, not leaking out and we’re not simply rearranging the furniture and calling that an impact,” she said. “This is money that would not have been there otherwise.”

Ruffridge works at Emsi, a firm that’s recently done similar economic impact studies for Syracuse, the University of Illinois and the public universities in Ohio. Ruffridge made her presentation yesterday to the Iowa Board of Regents. The board’s president said in a written statement that the analysis shows the universities provide a “tangible benefit” to Iowans in all 99 counties.