OHSU's $4 Billion Economic Impact Delivers for Oregon

OHSU Extra, Summer 2010

Quick, how would you answer this question:

What value does Oregon Health & Science University bring to the state and its citizens?

If asked to describe OHSU’s value to Oregon, you might respond that OHSU is one of the nation’s leading health and research universities. Or that its scientists average one new discovery every three days. Or that its experts provide care for the most complex healthcare needs. Or that it is the only university in Oregon to grant doctoral degrees in medicine, dentistry and nursing.

Now there is a new way to calculate OHSU’s value – a dollar value: around $4 billion a year. That’s the amount of annual economic impact that OHSU has on Portland and Oregon according to a recently released analysis by ECONorthwest, the region’s leading impact analysts. 

The $4 billion output is generated from spending, from grants and private contributions, and from the creation of new economic activity and jobs – as well as through personal income and tax revenue. According to the analysis, more than half of OHSU’s total economic activity is unique in the state, meaning that no other health system or university could step in to provide the same stimulus if OHSU didn’t exist.

“The importance of OHSU cannot be overstated,” said Ryan Deckert, president of the 330-member Oregon Business Association. “It’s easy to forget that a research institution is a traded sector – OHSU brings money in from out of state, just as Nike and Columbia Sportswear do, and then those resources are multiplied in our community.”

Sandra McDonough, CEO and president of the 1,400-member Portland Business Alliance, agrees with Deckert that OHSU is both a good economic bet – and a great investment. “Healthcare is a growing industry, and OHSU makes a good case for the business value of investing in higher education in key areas,” said McDonough. “OHSU provides Portland and the metro area with the money, jobs and ideas that flow from a major research institution.”

How does OHSU’s $4 billion annual impact break down? Here are the highlights:

Note: This article is from 2010. See the latest data at www.ohsu.edu/impact.

Economic Impact in Brief

Each year OHSU generates

  • $4 billion in economic impact
  • $2 billion in personal income
  • $180 million in state tax revenue from personal income


A sampling of companies started with OHSU research:

  • Acute Innovations
  • Artielle ImmunoTherapeutics
  • BioSpeech
  • Genefac
  • Molecular MD
  • Najit Technologies
  • Restoration Genetics
  • SimHealth
  • Virogenomics
  • Yecuris

For more, visit OHSU Tech Transfers


Patient visits per year: 750,000+
Inpatients per year: 27,000

The quality of OHSU specialty services draws patients from outside the metro area and from other states, which generate economic impact.


$300 million a year in earned competitive grants
Since 2000, 40 startup companies generated

Grants bring out-of-state money to Oregon that is used to create jobs and purchase supplies and services. OHSU research has led to multiple startups, nearly three-quarters of which operate in Oregon, or did at one time (see box, right).


Giving tops $100 million in FY2007 and FY2009

Generous gifts from philanthropic partners support OHSU’s vital missions each year (see box, right). More than 80 percent of those contributions are directed to programs and initiatives – especially advanced research activities – that are unique in Oregon.


Number of students: 2,583

Students who come to Oregon for medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant and graduate science programs stimulate the state’s economy to the tune of nearly $45 million a year spent on local businesses and services. In addition, because most of OHSU’s graduate health education programs are unique in the state, nearly all spending associated with them would disappear if OHSU didn’t exist.


OHSU employees: 12,800

The number of OHSU employees in conjunction with the number of jobs that OHSU creates in the community (primarily related to operations, capital spending, student spending and startup companies) results in around 35,000 jobs each year that are part of OHSU’s total economic impact.

Urban vitality

Building a new urban neighborhood

OHSU’s decision to expand within Portland’s urban core sparked the development of the South Waterfront District and the formation of the city’s Science and Technology Quarter, which will include the Schnitzer Campus, a new OHSU educational campus now in the planning stages. The campus will be made possible by a gift of land from Schnitzer Investment Corp. valued at $34 million and an anonymous $40 million gift to advance multidisciplinary medical education.


For more information, visit www.ohsu.edu/impact

Note: The ECONorthwest analysis is based on figures from FY07 (July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007), the most recent year for which all data was available when the analysts began their work. Most observers
believe that OHSU’s impact has grown since 2007. The more than $80 million in competitively awarded stimulus funding that has come to OHSU since 2009 was not included in the study.