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Emsi’s Capital Analysis Justifies Funding for New UT Martin STEM Facility

October 24, 2016 by Emsi Burning Glass


In a time of serious need, the University of Tennessee utmat Martin (UT Martin) used Emsi’s Economic Impact and Capital Analysis studies to demonstrate the ROI that would come from building a proposed STEM facility. The results, in part, led to a boost in state funding—reducing the university’s share of facility construction costs from 25% to 10%.

Key takeaways:

  • UT Martin leveraged Emsi’s Economic Impact and Capital Analysis studies to communicate the institution’s value and make the case for additional state funding to build a new STEM facility—now known as the Latimer Engineering and Science Building.
  • Among other things, the study found that building the new facility would generate 900-plus jobs.
  • The Capital Analysis helped justify a state budget amendment increasing state funding of the $65 million project.

Led by its current Interim Chancellor, Dr. Robert Smith—a longtime acquaintance of Emsi from his time at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania—UT Martin came to Emsi last year needing support for a critical project. Limited by inadequate space and antiquated laboratory facilities, UT Martin needed to prove that the proposed construction of a new STEM facility would be a smart and profitable investment for the state.

After working with Emsi several years ago, Smith knew that Emsi could provide him with the analysis he needed to advance UT Martin’s cause. Emsi consultants worked closely with the UT Martin team to develop a customized report based on the Economic Impact Study and the Capital Analysis. The report would show the broad-reaching value of UT Martin and detail the potential ROI of building the new STEM facility.

“I would say that the study has generated a 2,000% return on the price we paid.”

Even before the study was conducted, its potential was being recognized by stakeholders outside the university. In fact, the price of the study was paid for not solely by UT Martin, but by a seven-party consortium that included the City of Martin, Weakley County administration, two regional economic development agencies, and a $10K grant from the USDA. Once the study was delivered, the UT Martin team immediately used it to gain traction around the state.

Chancellor Smith said he’s used the important numbers from the study–the overall economic impact, the return on investment, and the fact that the new facility would be a catalyst for creating over 900 new jobs in the region, among other key facts–in dozens of presentations to a wide range of audiences. Because the study included a wide variety of findings, he says it was especially valuable that he could tailor it to his audience.

“The power of the study is having the data, and being able to use it to speak the language of the people you’re speaking to.”

Beyond using the facts from the study in various presentations, Chancellor Smith says the university has also incorporated them into a variety of promotional materials and infographics.

The study’s findings were compelling enough that the city has incorporated them into its own materials—particularly the value that each UT Martin graduate provides to the community. And at the state level, Emsi’s Capital Analysis of the proposed STEM facility was convincing enough that it, in part, led Tennessee State Senator John Stevens to attach a successful amendment to the state budget. The amendment reduced the share that UT Martin had to pay for the facility from the standard 25% to 10%.

“I would say that the study has generated a 2,000% return on the price we paid,” says Smith. “The data from the study were instrumental in securing a $65 million project for the university, the largest building we’ve been able to build in over 30 years. It’s a total game-changer for the university.”

UT Martin isn’t done making use of the study, either. It’s incorporating it into a number of grant applications and direct financial appeals. And, as a follow-up, the university is in the midst of an additional study with Emsi to further quantify the value that its alumni provide to the economy.

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