Economic Impact on the St. Louis Region

Almost $2 billion in direct spending by Washington University in St. Louis in fiscal year 2013 supported more than 39,000 jobs in the St. Louis region.

The rich history of Washington University parallels the overall story of the St. Louis region's growth, for the two are inextricably linked. As St. Louis moves forward, Washington University benefits. Washington University in turn, is an engine for growth and a vital and stabilizing force in the region’s economy. While Washington University in St. Louis has grown to be a world-class research university, our roots remain firmly in our community.

The following stories are just a few illustrations of how the university and the community continue to grow together. A brochure on Washington University’s Impact on the St. Louis Region (PDF)​ is also available.


Top employer in the region

Washington University is consistently ranked as a top employer in the St. Louis area: #3 by the St. Louis Business Journal based on the number of local employees, #3 in major employers by St. Louis Regional Chamber, #3 largest local employer by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and #5 in the top private employers by Missouri Economic and Research Information Center.

Regional distribution of employees

The number of full-time WUSTL employees in fiscal year 2013 was 13,251. The university's payroll (excluding student payroll and stipends to fellows) exceeded $1 billion. Of this amount, more than $865 million was earned by employees living in St. Louis City and County. The map below designates the distribution of employees in the region.


Washington University is big player in St. Louis’ booming central corridor

In 2002, the CORTEX Innovation district was formed by Washington University in St. Louis, BJC HealthCare, University of Missouri–St. Louis, Saint Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden. The district will be home to 4,000 jobs. John Hoal, PhD, chair of the Master of Urban Design Program at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts says CORTEX serves the dual purpose of providing opportunities for WUSTL students and faculty and helping create a new economy that will sustain the region for years to come. Read more about WUSTL’s commitment to creating more jobs in the St. Louis’ central corridor.


Washington University #1 Consumer of Building Trades in St. Louis

Washington University is the leading consumer of building trades in St. Louis. The St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council regards the university as an important partner due to its size and the value it places on union construction. Listen to Jeff Aboussie talk about recent projects, including expansions to the CORTEX Innovation district and major renewal of Barnes Jewish hospital that have provided employment opportunities for many in the area. The map below illustrates vendors paid $1,000 or more in aggregate for fiscal year 2014.

Washington University supports and champions local businesses

ELB Enterprises has provided janitorial and cleaning supplies and services to Washington University since 2010. Edmond Brown, president of the company says his company's relationship with WUSTL has allowed him to grow his business from $500,000 to over $2 million and to go from being a redistributor to a direct distributor, making it possible for ELB to compete in the janitorial and cleaning industry.

New Washington University development includes grocery and diner

A grocery store in The Loop has been a long-held desire of university officials and the area’s business community. In 2011, a study found that The Loop’s growing population could support it. “We recognize that Washington University draws students not only from all over the country but also from all over the world,” Shayn Prapaisilp, head of development for the family-owned United Provisions and anchor tenant at the development said. “One of the most comforting things for someone in a new country is to have foods from home, and we hope to provide that for those students.” In addition to United Provisions, Joe Edwards’s 4,800-square-foot Peacock diner will offer the neighborhood its first all-night place to eat. Find out more about this $80 million WUSTL development project.

BJC campus renewal positio​​ns M/WBEs for future growth

WUSTL/BJC Medical Center campus at Kingshighway Boulevard will undergo tremendous new construction and renovation over the next decade. The cost of the campus renewal is estimated at $1 billion, with bonds being issued by the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

BJC officials said diversity and inclusion are an integral pieces of the planning and implementation of the campus renewal project. 48 M/WBE firms have been contracted in the renewal to date. Through May 2014, BJC reports that more than 150,000 minority workforce labor hours (10 percent minority female and 18 percent minority male) are working on the campus renewal project with more than $22 million in M/WBE contracts (five percent WBE and 13 percent MBE). Read more about WUSTL’s partnership with BJC.

“For the Sake of All” project kicks off community action series

for-the-sake-of-all.jpg“For the Sake of All” is an interdisciplinary project funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health to improve the health and well-being of African-Americans in the St. Louis region. Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School is the lead researcher on the project. The “community action” phase began in October 2014 with a panel discussing ways to create economic opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. Community members received a discussion guide and action toolkit to respond to the project’s recommendations. The panel was co-sponsored by the Brown School’s Policy Forum and FOCUS St. Louis. Find out more about "For the Sake of All".

School and hospital team to help create national pediatric research network

Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital will take part in a multi-institutional project that aims to create a national pediatric learning health system and clinical data research network. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded $7 million dollars to eight leading hospital systems including the university’s in order to create the pediatric-specific learning health system (LHS) and the clinical data research network (CDRN). The LHS and CDRN will allow patients, families, clinicians and researchers to work together in order to provide crucial information to help patients and families make informed health-care decisions. Read more about the national pediatric research network.

North St. Louis students AIM for fitness

aim-for-fitness.jpgWashington University School of Medicine has partnered with BJC School Outreach (among others) to lead the AIM for Fitness program in St. Louis Public Schools. Funded by a $2.2 million, three-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education, the program will fight the problem of childhood obesity. The initiative, focused on fourth and fifth graders, educates students on the value of a healthy lifestyle by providing nutritious meals and promoting physical activity. Susan Racette, associate professor of physical therapy and medicine and colleague B. Ruth Clark, associate professor of physical therapy and neurology, are working with P.E. teachers in the schools to offer more opportunities for exercise. Find out more about AIM for Fitness.

Community researchers seek to help end racial health disparities in St. Louis area

Melody Goodman, an assistant professor in WUSTL’s public health sciences division, started the Community Research Fellows Training program offered by the Washington University School of Medicine with the hopes of effectively improving public health in St. Louis.

Cancer deaths, heart disease, premature birth, asthma and other health conditions affect African-American communities disproportionately. Research on prevention is key but minorities, those without health insurance and those who live in poor and rural areas, have been underrepresented in research on new medicines, treatments and interventions. The program allows people in the community to set priorities and determine solutions, yielding more sustainable initiatives that people will actually use. Find out more about this WUSTL healthcare accessibility study​.

Washington University School of Medicine awarded $26 million for leukemia research

Washington University researchers and physicans have been awarded two major grants from The National Cancer Institute, helping to establish the university as a premier center for leukemia research. Read more about WUSTL’s leukemia research funding.


New school claims its place

hawthorne-school.jpgMary Danforth Stillman, niece of former Washington University Chancellor William H. Danforth and daughter of Sen. John Danforth, created the notion of the first, single-gender public school in Missouri, an idea which has gained momentum amongst the community. Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls aims to provide high-quality education to families that would not otherwise have access to it. The school hopes to take over the location of a historic building on N. Kingshighway and will open with a 6th and 7th grade in the fall of 2015, adding a new grade each subsequent year until 2020. The building falls in a zip code that has been identified as most in need of a good middle school. Read more about Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls.

Science Resource Center opens for K-12 education

The MySci Resource Center is WUSTL’s Institute for School Partnership’s signature effort to improve K-12 education in the St. Louis region. MySci provides elementary school teachers with instructional materials and professional development opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in order to help instill a love of science in students. Read more about this community collaboration in Washington Magazine.

Investing in St. Louis' next generation

The WUSTL's College Prep Program provides high-achieving St. Louis area high school students with a three-year experience, beginning after a student’s freshman year of high school and continuing the following two summers after their sophomore and junior years of high school. The goal of the program is to prepare talented students with limited financial resources for college and its challenges. The College Prep Program is provided at no cost to students or their families. This program is part of the university’s ongoing commitment to increasing the pipeline of first generation college students in the St. Louis community. Read about College Prep's inaugural class.


These game changers are fueling St. Louis’ startup revival

game-changers.jpgWashington University alumni and graduate students are doing their part to fuel St. Louis’ fast-growing tech and start-up scene. Alumni Tara Pham is the founder of CTY, a company that collects and analyzes urban data. Along with other alumni, Pham also started Brain Drain, a multi-disciplinary collective which funds civic projects in St. Louis. Another alumni, De Nichols is responsible for Catalysts by Design, a non-profit design firm, which funds Design Serves and United Story, two programs which use community involvement to identify and solve social challenges. Current Olin graduate student, Leigh Farrah, along with her husband Jimmy Farrah lead Rustic Grain, a company which salvages lumber from old barns and creates hand-crafted wood furniture. Find out more about these entrepreneurial alumni.

Area universities collaborate to keep international students in the region

Washington University is collaborating with the St. Louis Mosaic Project in order to retain international students and boost immigration in the area. The St. Louis Mosaic Project aims to transform St. Louis into the fastest growing metropolitan area for immigration within the next 15 years. The organization is working in close partnerships with other regional institutions in order to encourage international students to reside in the St. Louis area after graduation. Washington University hosted an employment workshop for international students in June 2014. Read more about The St. Louis Mosaic Project.


Alzheimer’s research awarded $30 million

alzheimer.jpgThe Washington University School of Medicine has received a total of $30 million in grants to fund two major Alzheimer’s disease studies. The funding, which comes from the the National Institutes on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), renews support for research at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to identify biological changes or biomarkers. These biomarkers will allow researchers to start Alzheimer’s treatments years before patients develop memory loss and dementia. The grants also go towards funding the the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN), an attempted international registry of families with inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the Healthy Aging and Senile Dementia study. Find out more about the studies.

Eight of 20 Arch Grant winners are affiliated with Wash U

Washington University affiliated groups make up eight of the twenty recipients of 2014 Arch Grants. Arch Grants seek to enrich the growing start-up culture and infrastructure of St. Louis by awarding winning teams with $50,000 in capital to start their proposed businesses. Since its start in 2012, over one-third of the 55 total Arch Grants have gone to WUSTL-connected teams. The teams come from a wide variety of disciplines, creating companies such as Nanopore Diagnostics which creates medical devices to Artifox, a product-design firm. Other winners include Made for Freedom, Greetabl, BetaVersity, Prattle Analytics, FreightGrid, and Less Annoying CRM. Find out more about WashU Arch Grant winners.

Top Colleges for Entrepreneurship 2014

Washington University has been ranked one of the top 25 schools for entrepreneurship by Entrepreneur magazine. The title, based on academic programs, student and faculty involvement, and external or scholarship opportunities, reflects the university’s 30 entrepreneurship programs, impressive entrepreneurial competition funds, and the presence of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. This finding also indicates the presence of young entrepreneurs arriving in St. Louis to attend Washington University and then starting businesses in the area, infusing the city with jobs and cash. Read the article in Entrepreneur.

GlobalHack II: St. Louis Hackathon Hosts Nationwide Talent

globalhack.jpgA team from Washington University attended GlobalHack, a 48-hour programming competition, in November 2014. The team, who call themselves The Nine, entered for the chance to win $50,000 by creating and presenting a functioning computer program over the course of a weekend. The high-pressure, innovative environment of the informally known “hackathon” proved an enriching environment for the young programmers and an important step to a more tech-based culture for the city of St. Louis. Watch the GlobalHack video.

​The first interactive wiring diagram of the brain

WUSTL researcher Deanna Barch is working on the first interactive wiring diagram of the living, working human brain. The database and brain map are a part of the Human Connectome Project, a $40 million, five-year effort supported by the National Institute of Health. Read about Barch’s groundbreaking brain research in The New York Times.


Kayak’s Coffee and other a​rea businesses accept Bear Bucks​

Bear Bucks is WUSTL's complementary currency system that allows anyone with an active university ID to make purchases on campus and at a growing number of area businesses. The Bear Bucks program was piloted in 2011 at Kayak’s and Bobo Noodle House due to their proximity to the Danforth campus. As of June 2014, Bear Bucks total sales for off-campus businesses totaled over $1.2 million.