Northern Arizona University contributed nearly $1.5 billion to the state’s economy over the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by NAU’s Arizona Rural Policy Institute.

“Northern Arizona University is foremost an educational institution with the ultimate goal of providing a quality undergraduate education option for everyone in the state,” said NAU President John Haeger. “But there is no question that it also is an economic driver that continues to grow despite the difficult economic cycle.”

The report, titled “The Economic Contributions of Northern Arizona University to the State of Arizona in 2010,” shows that students, employees and the institution itself contribute more than $1.1 billion to the Arizona economy; NAU visitors, retirees and alumni add nearly $400 million per year.

“This report shows the tangible positive effects NAU has on the Arizona economy and reaffirms that NAU is a key part of the state’s economic recovery,” Haeger said.

Released the same week that Gov. Jan Brewer announced the state was going to cut nearly $26 million from Northern Arizona University’s budget, the report shows that every dollar that the state invests in NAU generates $11 in the state economic activity.

A similar economic impact study conducted in 2003 showed that NAU had a statewide economic impact of about $990 million.

Wayne Fox, assistant dean and director of the Arizona Rural Policy Institute, added that one in every eight jobs in Coconino County is attributable to NAU’s presence in the region, and that for every 100 people employed by NAU and other businesses and organizations as a result of NAU’s operations, another 51 positions are generated throughout the state.

“One thing that I think people will find interesting is that when you take a look at the earnings of the more than 80,000 NAU alums who still reside in the state, they paid in excess of $72 million in Arizona personal income tax over what they would have paid had they not earned their degrees,” Fox said. “NAU has a significant impact on local and state tax revenue generation, which is an important consideration in these tax-sensitive times.”

The report was compiled using a nationally accepted model, the Minnesota IMPLAN Group model, which measures both the direct impact and the ensuing multiplier impacts resulting from NAU operations.

Read the full report online.