Northern Arizona University contributes nearly $2 billion to the Arizona economy each year, according to a new study conducted by the Arizona Rural Policy Institute, a unit of NAU’s Alliance Bank Outreach Center.

The study shows that NAU contributes $1.85 billion in economic activity, which supports 20,300 Arizona jobs. Further, NAU’s 88,600 alumni pay more than $68 million in Arizona state income taxes, a figure related to their educational attainment.

NAU serves 27,000 students statewide and creates one in five jobs in Coconino County.

At the university’s sites throughout the state, NAU’s economic impact is on an upward trajectory. The Phoenix Biomedical Campus generated an estimated $17.5 million during the last fiscal year, a figure expected to grow to about $39 million annually by 2019.

“The economic well-being of the residents of Flagstaff and other communities throughout Arizona is enhanced by the purchases of goods and services and the jobs created as a result of the daily activities on NAU’s campuses,” said Jeff Peterson, research associate in the W.A. Franke College of Business and lead author of the report.

The study also points out that state investment in NAU earns huge returns for Arizona. Each dollar appropriated by the state generates $16.72 annually in economic activity including substantial contributions to the state and local tax bases.

Peterson said the figures are impressive when he considers reductions in state funding. “In addition to the large number of NAU workers in Coconino County, a good chunk of revenues are driven by student spending,” he said, referring to the $57.6 million in NAU-related state and local taxes collected in Coconino County.

Beyond current economic activity and expenditures, NAU is a driver for future growth, said John Stigmon, vice president of the Economic Development Collaborative of Northern Arizona. “One of the critical elements for our community is the support of Northern Arizona University because having the right talent in a community is what draws capital for economic development,” Stigmon said.

The report was based on the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2014.