University News

Western's Economic Impact on West Central Illinois Tops $473 Million

May 9, 2016

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MACOMB, IL -- Since Western Illinois University was established in 1899, the regional public university has contributed economically, culturally and philanthropically to the region. A recent study released by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs' Rural Economic Technical Assistance Center (RETAC) indicates that Western's economic impact within a 16-county region in central Illinois is approximately $473 million.

During FY'15, the University's employment and operations, capital improvement expenditures and student expenditures created or supported 3,904 full- and part-time employment positions, generating nearly $225.5 million in labor income. Counties included are Adams, Brown, Carroll, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jo Davies, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Mercer, Rock Island, Schuyler, Warren and Whiteside.

"Western serves as an economic driver, employment hub and business anchor for the region and the state," said Robin Hanna, study author and RETAC project manager. "Economic activities provide significant benefits to regional businesses, and the University's cohort of employees, students and retirees provide a strong consumer base."

The total annual economic impact of WIU is determined by several components including $89.6 million in operational expenditures; $172.3 million in employment compensation (wages, salaries, bonuses, benefits, retirement and social insurance payments); $40.8 million in student expenditures; and $8.2 million in capital improvement and construction expenditures, in addition to others.

"Western Illinois University is essential to this region and to this state. We are the economic engine for west-central Illinois," noted WIU President Jack Thomas. "Despite the ongoing budget impasse and the financial crisis in the state of Illinois, Western Illinois University continues to meet its mission. We are educating and graduating students, and we are providing outstanding opportunities to those communities in which we reside. It is with great pride that we represent west central Illinois."

The complete study can be found at

For more information, contact RETAC at (309) 298-2272 or the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at (800) 526-9943.

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations