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Drake University’s Multi-Billion Dollar Impact on Central Iowa Economy

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  According to a new study, Drake University students, faculty, staff, visitors, and alumni all have a substantial impact on the central Iowa economy.

The study by Impact DataSource of Austin, Texas, shows that Drake University generates $413 million in consumer spending, while alumni boost the regional GDP by about $2 billion, or 4%.

"Drake as an institution has a $413 million annual economic impact on central Iowa," said Marty Martin, President of Drake University. "When you include our alums, that is all of our alums, who over the years have settled here in central Iowa, as a unit in and of themselves, it's over $2 billion worth of annual economic impact."

Part of that impact is construction.

"And we also measure, what does it mean for us to invest in new infrastructure like the Collier-Scripps Hall and the Science Connector Building behind me right now, as we make those kinds of investments in new capital structures. That money filters its way out through the economy, the local economy, and boosts economic activity," said President Martin.

According to the study, nearly 70% of Drake students come from outside the state with only 19% coming from the Des Moines metro area, but more than 50% stay after graduating.

That's something not lost on Mary Bontrager, Executive Vice President of Talent Development for The Greater Des Moines Partnership.

"We certainly see the impact that Drake has from a talent perspective, the attraction that they’re doing to bring students in from all over the United States and internationally, and then their high retention rates of those students impacts a long-term economy, but certainly helps to grow our economy to support our businesses by ensuring that they have the right talent that they need so they, too, can grow," said Bontrager.

An example of that is Matthew Kraus, a sophomore studying finance.

"Once you get here, it's like there's just so many opportunities," said Kraus. "So me, being in finance, I'm looking at internships at like Wells Fargo, or Principal, because they have big brands here and they're well-known and have a lot of business in the city, so once you get here, there's just so much to do and places to work. It's tough to leave, I guess."