University of South Florida


Graphic that states, "Economic Impact Report"

[ Graphic by Kyrstin DiMercurio, University Communications and Marketing ]

New study finds USF’s economic impact rises to more than $6 billion annually

The University of South Florida generates an annual economic impact of $6.02 billion, according to a new report that analyzes the university’s role in serving as a catalyst for growth in the Tampa Bay region and state of Florida.  The study provides an in-depth look in real-dollar terms at USF’s impact across the full scope of the university.

Among the key takeaways, which are based on fiscal year 2019-20 data:

  • USF produces a total economic output of $6.02 billion.
  • Every $1 of state funding invested in USF helps generate more than $14 in economic output.
  • USF-related direct spending, together with ripple effects, supports 68,704 jobs in Florida. Importantly, many of the jobs supported by USF are in high-skill, high-wage, knowledge-based industries.
  • USF was awarded a record $535.4 million in research contracts and grants, much in applied research that is highly relevant to real-world applications. 
  • With more than 16,000 employees, USF is the 14th largest public employer in Florida.

USF President Rhea Law says the study reaffirms the value of the work being done by students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“As a major research university that shares a symbiotic relationship with a growing urban region, the University of South Florida is a powerful engine of prosperity,” Law said.  “By graduating students who are career-ready, generating knowledge that addresses our most pressing issues and fostering more inclusive communities, USF contributes greatly to the vitality and vibrancy of our region and state.”

The report highlights USF’s position as a leader in meeting workforce needs and preparing students for career success through its nearly 250 degrees programs. The study details USF’s social impact by creating opportunities for a population that includes approximately 25% of students who are first in their families to go to college and 40% of students who are eligible for a Pell grant, which is awarded to undergraduates from lower-income families. USF’s research enterprise is also featured, including more than 2,400 U.S. patents held by faculty, students, staff and alumni that can help address complex challenges facing society and lead to new startup companies.

“In this report, the breadth and depth of USF’s economic impact can be seen in all aspects of the university’s operations – from the students it educates, to the faculty and professional staff it employs, to the talented professional and entrepreneurs who power a modern innovation economy, to the construction projects that shaped the campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee,” the executive summary notes.

The study, which was compiled by a team of faculty and students from the Muma College of Business, is available here.  An interactive website that tells more of the stories of how USF makes an impact and creates opportunities can be viewed here.

What others are saying about USF’s impact:

J.P. DuBuque, president and CEO of the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation: “USF is uniquely positioned to address some of the main challenges facing our communities, including the need for more collaboration across the Tampa Bay region to attract new businesses and the growing demand to produce a more skilled workforce.  With three campuses spread over multiple counties, USF is poised to take an active role in tackling these issues by helping local leaders think more regionally and pushing the envelope to offer programs tailored to employer needs.  In St. Petersburg, USF’s programs line up well with our Grow Smarter industries of marine and life sciences, financial services, data analytics, specialized manufacturing, and creative art and design. Through USF’s focus on innovation, the university also strengthens and influences other organizations like the St. Pete Innovation District and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which support entrepreneurship and job creation.”

Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp: "The University of South Florida is a major community asset in attracting and retaining companies and talent to Manatee County.  The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus leadership is focused on tailoring programs to address workforce development needs of the region’s employers in areas such as hospitality, insurance, healthcare, entrepreneurship and more.”

Lisa Krouse, CEO of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation: “USF has been instrumental in producing talent throughout various industry sectors from financial, accounting, insurance, hospitality, nursing and others. USF plays a vital role in producing strong talent for our local economy.  Their business partnerships thrive because it has contributed to the incredible success that has been seen by businesses in our community.  The university has had an especially big role in diversifying our economy with its intentional focus on partnering with businesses and paying close attention to our local labor needs. Working together with the community, USF has provided trained professionals in nursing as well as other industry sectors, which has been a huge driver for our economy. Their production of local talent can’t be understated.”

Craig Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council: “Technology has long been a target industry of the Tampa Bay EDC, but over the past few years we’ve seen a steady increase in interest from tech CEOs, particularly in the sectors of cybersecurity, fintech and health tech, who are discovering that Tampa is an ideal place to grow their companies.  Access to a highly skilled pool of talent, fueled by USF’s strong pipeline of diverse technical talent, is the leading factor attracting tech CEOs and companies to our area.”

Bemetra Simmons, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership: “The University of South Florida is a major economic driver for the entire Tampa Bay region, producing a pipeline of talent for our workforce and impacting innovation through research and technology licensing. In 2017, we partnered with the USF Muma College of Business to launch the State of the Region initiative. Together, we produce the annual State of the Region community event and a collection of complementary research projects to help our community leaders understand Tampa Bay’s strengths and weaknesses, how we compare to communities across the country, and what’s needed to move the needle on our greatest challenges.”

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