CMU produces $2.7 billion in economic impact for Pittsburgh

Credit: Lisa Qian/ Credit: Lisa Qian/

Carnegie Mellon University serves as an “economic engine”, providing nearly $2.7 billion in annual economic impact for the local, regional, and state economy in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia’s Econsult Solutions explains in a recent report from the 2016 fiscal year that part of the reason Carnegie Mellon has a huge spillover effect is because the university ensures that its inflow of education, research, and commercial activities are directed into Pittsburgh’s economy.

The University’s operations create over 7,610 jobs in the City of Pittsburgh and over 12,500 jobs within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whether they are direct, indirect, or induced jobs. These jobs range from purchasing food and healthcare, real estate living, and transportation services, although over 70 percent of Carnegie Mellon employees are in some sort of educational services sector. In just the city of Pittsburgh alone, the economic output from jobs is around $1.2 billion.

Additionally, the university has spent around $271 million in capital investments and $219 million in certain construction over the past six years. Over the last year, the amount of University construction increased by almost $40 million, partly due to building sites like the Cohon Center extension, which opened mid last year, and the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, opening in 2018.
The university plans to upgrade old facilities and construct new ones by spending around $520 million on construction projects through 2022. When such large-scale projects happen, the immediate economic impact and aftermath is beneficial as different jobs and operations such as technical services, manufacturing, waste management, etc., increase.

Most of the money Carnegie Mellon attains is in the form of tuition and research grants, so what the university exports in terms of talent, innovation, and engagement has driven itself and Pittsburgh. With over 20,000 alumni in Pittsburgh and a collective 13,000 students, these members increase the educational attainment level and wage earnings of Pittsburgh’s workforce, especially over the long run.

Carnegie Mellon utilizes its inflow of money to assist student inventors and community entrepreneurship. Through services from the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation and the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, students and regional entrepreneurs foster their entrepreneurial ideas and projects. In fact, over the past five years, Carnegie Mellon has helped over 148 start-up companies grow. As much as $783 million in venture capital funding from 31 of these start-ups are located in Pittsburgh. They potentially attract attention and economic boosters from areas like Silicon Valley and New York City. Some notable projects include reCAPTCHA and Carnegie Robotics. Nearby firms include Amazon, Disney, Apple, and Google, which actively capitalize on the university’s talent.
Another noteworthy aspect of Carnegie Mellon is its diverse geographic distribution of students. Around 43 percent of Carnegie Mellon students are from outside the U.S. Their presence cannot be understated to just diversifying an area, but also promoting a variety of local services through real estate, grocery stores, religious establishments, and low-margin businesses which thrive from the certain niche they serve.

Carnegie Mellon University also emphasizes students and faculty civic engagement and community contribution to the arts and humanities. Right now, the University’s Metro21 initiative improves metro-related problems to facilitate transportation in the Pittsburgh area. The University’s technological projects also help the public; Airviz Inc., a Carnegie Mellon-based company, has marketed Speck, a device used to monitor air pollution. Over 1,000 of these devices are used in the Pittsburgh area, and have also spread nationwide.

Carnegie Mellon also has a highly regarded College of Fine Arts, which generates an output of talent for the local arts scenes in the Pittsburgh area. The arts and humanities are not just an attractive factor to the area, but are vital in a broad economic scene. Pittsburgh’s arts and culture scene provide a workforce for individuals, attract local businesses, and invigorate its urban areas with younger populations. The Cultural District in Pittsburgh is composed of the Ballet Theater, Opera, Symphony Orchestra, Public Theater, Cultural Trust, and more, all of which the Carnegie Mellon community attends and learns from.

Without a doubt, Carnegie Mellon is an esteemed institution, which provides its members with many opportunities who in return give back through monetary returns, community projects, talent, and prestige. What is important is that the university continues to prioritize that such economic and social benefits spread through Pittsburgh and influence the larger community.