Chicago's universities and colleges boost the economy, create jobs

Collin Llewellyn
December 03, 2014

Forty-three thousand. That is the number of jobs 17 Chicago higher education institutions contributed to the city's workforce in 2013.  All 17 institutions, including DePaul, are members of America's Urban Campus, the coalition that recently published a new study on the economic impact of Chicago's universities and colleges.


Created in 2013, AUC not only informs the general public of the impact Chicago-area schools have on the city, but also aims to position Chicago on the forefront of global cities. Chicago universities and colleges are doing more than just educating leaders of the 21st century, according to the economic impact study, conducted by the Anderson Economic Group and funded by one of AUC's local partners, The Chicago Community Trust. Chicago's higher education institutions are boosting the local economy and creating jobs.  

AUC complements DePaul's strategic plan, Vision 2018, focusing on Chicago's global diversity, engaging students in urban issues and civic involvement, creating sustainable partnerships with the community to enhance urban life, and securing Chicago's place as an international epicenter for education.

"From economic development to internships in the workforce to community service, DePaul always has had a strong connection to Chicago, helping make the city a global destination for vital, real-world learning experiences," says Patricia O'Donoghue, interim president of DePaul.

In addition to the 43,000 jobs, which represent four percent of the total Chicago workforce, the study found that AUC members contributed $10.8 billion to the local economy. One out of four college-educated Chicagoans received degrees from an AUC institution. The universities and colleges also educated 216,000 students in the same academic year.

"The America's Urban Campus study definitively proves Chicago is a world-class educational city that attracts students from all over the nation and throughout the world," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the official AUC press release.

The study stated since 2003, degrees and certificates awarded from AUC schools have increased by 26 percent; however, the impact doesn't end there. Partnerships between the AUC and Chicago Public Schools have affected  more than 42,000 CPS students attending 578 different schools throughout Chicago in various programs aimed to enrich local student's pre-college experience and educations.

The AUC evolved from the Higher Education Roundtable, organized by former University of Chicago Vice President of Civic Engagement Anne Marie Lipinski. Co-chairs Sonya Malunda of the University of Chicago and J.D. Bindenagel of DePaul University led the coalition during its formation year. Alicia Berg of Columbia College Chicago currently serves as co-chair.