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 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.

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.


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.​


WUSTL undergraduate​ sells Farmplicity, startup that began as class project

Jolijt Tamanaha spent her last weeks of junior year at Washington University in St. Louis selling a startup she co-founded called Farmplicity, an online marketplace that matches restaurants with local farmers. She founded the business as part of an Olin Business School course called The Hatchery. Tamanaha, a political science major in Arts & Sciences, credits that course and the mentoring she received at the university for allowing her to grow and sell a successful startup while still in college. Read more about Tamanaha and Farmplicity.

Washington University team builds out prototype to win first GlobalHack

“The Force,” a team of current WUSTL students and graduates won $50,000 at the inaugural GlobalHack event in St. Louis. Of more than 200 developers, designers and entrepreneurs that attended the three-day event, their prototype app for TopOPPS was judged the winner. TopOPPS, a sales management company and sponsor of the event, is going to expand upon the team's work for the earliest versions of its software. Read more about the GlobalHack event and the talent of WUSTL’s participants.


John Morris’ Team is clos​​ing in on treatments for Alzheimer’s

After three decades of research, John Morris’ team is beginning prevention trials for Alzheimer’s disease. Morris said, “The mission in and of itself is enormously exciting because it shifts the paradigm from trying only to cure the illness once it already has caused considerable brain damage to trying to prevent the symptoms from occurring.”

Morris is the principal investigator for Washington University’s Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network Trials Unit (DIAN), director of the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neurology in the School of Medicine. Find out more about the DIAN project and its six-year, $15 million award from the NIH.

WUSTL startup beats out teams from MIT​, Berkeley for grant

Sparo Labs won a $150,000 grant from the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT). Founded by Washington University students Andrew Brimer and Abigail Cohen, Sparo Labs is developing a pocket-sized spirometer to measure lung function, which could have a big impact on asthma patients. As juniors at WUSTL, Brimer and Cohen were part of an extracurricular design team that operated similarly to engineers without borders. Read more about Sparo Labs winning innovation.

​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.

WUSTL oncologist receives $375,000 research grant

Pediatric Hematologist Oncologist, Jeffrey Bednarski of Washington University received a $375,000 grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for his research on how immune cells respond to DNA breaks in order to support, correct, repair and minimize chances of cells generating cancer cells. Read more about this $375,000 award.​


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.

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