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UND says impact of research grew in FY11

The economic impact of UND research continues to grow, according to a new university report. That's in spite of a sluggish national economy and a tough fiscal environment in Washington that's led to less spending on research.

Research makes an impact

The economic impact of UND research continues to grow, according to a new university report. That's in spite of a sluggish national economy and a tough fiscal environment in Washington that's led to less spending on research.

In fiscal year 2011, the university's research had a $175.5 million economic impact in Grand Forks County. Adjusted for inflation, that's 6.1 percent more than in fiscal year 2010 and 33 percent more than in fiscal year 2006.

In Grand Forks County, 1,608 jobs, including 990 at the university, are attributable to UND research. That's up 10 percent since 2010 and 31.2 percent since 2006.

The state and local governments collected $3.3 million in taxes in the county in 2011, up 6.1 percent since 2010 and 15.5 percent since 2006.

How has UND defied national trends?


Funding for energy research continues to grow nationally, said Phyllis Johnson, UND's vice president for research and economic development. "And there's explosive activity in the area of unmanned aerial systems."


Johnson said the UAS research funding has gone to more than just projects conducted by the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. Faculty in engineering, psychology and nursing have received funding to study related questions, such as how people interact with the unmanned vehicles.

She said the research activity stretches across the university, including efforts in the School of Medicine and the chemistry and biology departments. "Everyone is doing well."

The contribution that the state's congressional delegation made in earmarked funding through 2010 was significant in building UND's research capacity, Johnson said.

"Even though we're no longer getting those earmarks, during the years that we did, it allowed us to strengthen the research program," she said. "You build a kind of momentum."

Regional benefit

The UND report, compiled by economist David Flynn, said university research also had an impact on the economy of the state and of the five state region that includes North Dakota.


Outside of Grand Forks County, the report said research activities generated 151 jobs statewide, a 10.2 percent increase from 2010, and 262 jobs in the North Central region, a 10.2 percent increase. The region includes three surrounding states and Wyoming.

Economic impact to the state, not including Grand Forks County, totaled $17.3 million, up 6.1 percent. Economic impact to the North Central region totaled $46.6 million, up 6.1 percent.

State and local governments in North Dakota, not including Grand Forks County, collected $683,000 last year, up 6.1 percent from 2010 and 88.6 percent from 2011.

New money

UND has been working for more than 10 years to grow its research program and bring research dollars to the campus, Johnson said. In that time, faculty members have improved their ability to attract research grants, she said.

People don't often realize that research has an impact on the economy, she said, but it is federal money coming into the community that otherwise would not be here.

Johnson said research funds are spent by UND on supplies and paying people who, in turn, spend those salaries in the area. "Without this federal funding, our area would have fewer jobs and less economic activity."

And she said the university's success in attracting research funding can be attributed to work by faculty-researchers that may not be visible to the public.


"It's not just the blockbuster patent; those are few and far between," she said. "Development of new inventions and obtaining patents for them, then getting them licensed to companies which go out and sell them -- UND benefits from that.

"It's the steady, continued attention to research that leads to those things."

Reach Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to pknudson@gfherald.com .

Total Grand Forks County jobs attributed UND research

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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