Study: Rowan’s economic impact on N.J. is just under $3B

Report shows impact by Glassboro-based school has nearly doubled since 2019

Rowan University has a $2.9 billion annual impact on New Jersey’s economy — a figure that has nearly doubled in less than five years — according to figures released by the school Monday.

According to the report by a private research firm, Econsult Solutions Inc. of Philadelphia, the school generates an annual tax revenue of $150 million.

Then there this: According to ESI, for every $1 that Rowan spends, $12 in economic activity is generated in New Jersey.

Rowan University’s Rowan Boulevard area.

Rowan President Ali Houshmand obviously was thrilled by the news. Houshmand, who was named president in 2012, has long said that serving as an economic engine for the state has been one of Rowan’s foundational pillars.

“Our economic impact is far-reaching,” he said. “Thanks to strategic thinking, visionary leadership from our board of trustees, state, donor and partner support, we’ve doubled enrollment over the past decade and have expanded our operations to eight campuses.

“We’ve seen firsthand that serving more students and providing more access and educational opportunities benefits the entirety of New Jersey.”

ESI calculated Rowan’s nearly $3 billion impact in academic year 2023 based on annual operations, research activity, capital investments, ancillary spending and alumni wage premium. The figure is nearly double that of a 2019 study, which said the institution’s statewide yearly impact at $1.53 billion.

Rowan was determined to be the fourth fastest-growing public doctoral institution in the nation. The school has 4,100 employees, but its day-to-day operation supports 14,700 full-time jobs, the study said.

ESI President Lee Huang said the reach of the school is noteworthy.

“The doubling of Rowan’s economic impact to $2.9 billion a year is impressive,” he said. “There has been significant growth during the last decade. The Rowan story has an impact on local, regional and societal levels.”

The study pointed to a number of key reasons for Rowan’s economic impact:

Annual research and operating expenditures: The total statewide economic impact for research and operations alone is $1.6 billion, which translates into $59 million in total tax revenue and 7,390 jobs supported.

A rendering of the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park & Museum in Mantua Township.

Capital investments: Spanning new construction, major renovations and large-scale maintenance projects, the total impact of capital investments is $194 million, according to the report. The work supports 1,000 full-time jobs, providing $63 million in employee compensation and generating $6.3 million in tax revenue.

The report notes that capital investments — estimated to be an annual average of $108 million through 2026 — spur direct economic benefits from immediate construction expenditures. Additionally, capital investments have a broader impact by improving spaces that foster educational and research activities.

Capital improvements underway at Rowan include: the $75 million Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park & Museum in Mantua Township; a $30 million expansion of the Chamberlain Student Center; a $125 million building for the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine and $50 million for the adjoining Virtua Health College Research Center on the West Campus; and a $9 million building for the Rowan Medicine Center – Cumberland in Vineland.

Student and visitor spending (ancillary spending): Students and visitors spent $195 million in the region, generating $7 million in tax revenue.

Alumni wage premium: Education and credentials from Rowan equate to elevated earning power for alumni as graduates possess higher earning power and stimulate the economy. With 70,400 alumni employed in New Jersey — and 54,700 in South Jersey — tax revenue for the state generated by alumni is $78 million.

Looking ahead

Under an ambitious “University of the Future” plan for the next decade, Rowan University President Ali Houshmand recently outlined $1.5 billion in future expansion projects.

Rowan anticipates an enrollment of 38,500 students by 2033, with 6,000 employees and an operating budget of $1.4 billion annually. Projections call for increasing undergraduate enrollment to 26,000, graduate enrollment to 10,500 and professional enrollment to 2,000 — the great majority of growth coming from online programs at all levels.

With a projection of a 70% increase in enrollment, a 75% increase in the operating budget and increases in capital spending, ancillary spending and wage premium, Rowan’s growth could lead to $4.9 billion in economic impact on New Jersey by 2033 with 25,000 total jobs supported, according to a report by Philadelphia-based ESI. That would translate into $4.4 billion in economic impact in South Jersey.

Influencing Glassboro and South Jersey: The study notes that Rowan is a key economic driver in Glassboro, influencing local business and employment opportunities. Rowan-related activities impact Glassboro a total of $225 million annually, according to the report.

The $426 million Rowan Boulevard, a public-private redevelopment project between Rowan, Glassboro and private investors, is a national model for smart growth that continues to transform and serve the campus and the borough.

The university’s influence also is felt in Camden County, which is home to Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden and the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University in Stratford.

Serving the broader region, the university is “instrumental in shaping the state’s future workforce,” while “its commitment to diversity enriches the regional economy by developing a skilled and inclusive workforce as seen in its partnerships with community colleges and specialized healthcare training centers,” the report notes.

Influencing the nation: The university’s impact goes well beyond economics, Huang notes. Rowan is a Top 100 national research university dedicated to excellence in undergraduate education.

“Rowan is an economic engine and also has an impact regionally and societally,” he said.

Chad Bruner, chairman of the Rowan University Board of Trustees, was equally enthused by the study.

“Approximately 10 years ago, the state took the bold step to reorganize parts of its higher education system, including designating Rowan as a comprehensive research university,” he said. “That decision and subsequent investment has produced great dividends with the promise for much more. Rowan is demonstrating that research can serve as a vital economic engine for our region and for our state.”