Dividends for Durham

August 1, 2006

Duke's total economic impact on the city and county of Durham is estimated at $3.2 billion a year, according to a new study.

The study--the fourth of its kind--found that local spending by the university, its students, and visitors during the 2004-05 fiscal year amounted to $1.6 billion. The impact of that spending, however, is at least twice that amount, or about $3.2 billion, the study found, because each dollar is spent at least once more before it leaves the local economy.

The first study, in 1997, estimated the university's economic impact at $1.9 billion. The last study, in 2003, pegged the impact at $2.6 billion. "Universities are communities that do more than spend money, and their hometowns are more than assemblages of stores and shops," President Richard H. Brodhead told the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce in presenting the results. "Still, it is important to take stock of all positive aspects of the Duke-Durham relationship, including Duke's significant financial impact."

Added Durham Mayor William Bell, "While the relationship between Durham and Duke goes far beyond dollars and cents, measuring that aspect of the relationship is a good step toward understanding and appreciating how important the university and the city are to each other."

The study, which uses government figures and other data and models to measure Duke's impact on Durham, was conducted by Duke's Office of Public Affairs, with help from the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The report reveals that some 15 percent of Durham County residents who are employed work at Duke. The university is the area's largest private employer, and more than half of its 37,026 employees live in Durham County.

Other highlights include findings that Duke students spent about $92.5 million off-campus and that the Duke health system provided $46 million in uncompensated medical care, primarily to Durham County residents.