Economic Impact on the St. Louis Region

Over $2.1 billion in direct spending by Washington University in St. Louis in fiscal year 2016 supported more than 43,000 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.

Economic Impact 2016

How the university and the community continue to grow together


Top employer in the St. Louis regionWashington 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 #4 in the top private employers by Missouri Economic and Research Information Center.
The map below designates the distribution of employees in the region.
the CORTEX Innovation districtThe first-rate research being conducted at WashU and other local research institutions is one of the main factors driving St. Louis to be the next major bioscience hub. The region’s support network for young life-sciences companies in the area is also a draw. Many organizations in the Cortex area including BioGenerator are also helping to build this thriving ecosystem. Read more about St. Louis as the next bioscience hub.

Purchasing and Construction

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.

elb-enterprisesELB 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.

campus nextThe university’s board of trustees has given the go-ahead for a $240 million expansion project for the east end of campus from Brookings Hall to Skinker, slated to begin construction in May 2017. The plan includes two new academic buildings, two all glass buildings, green spaces, and an underground parking garage. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2019. Read more about the campus expansion on CBS St. Louis.


The Central West End is in the middle of various exciting construction projects after a several-decade lull. The construction projects include a more than $1 billion renovation of the Washington University School of Medicine’s medical campus. Read more the CWE Building Boom on Next STL.

Access to Healthcare

for-the-sake-of-allFor the Sake of All, the multidisciplinary project aimed at improving the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis, has partnered with the St. Louis County Library system to help further promote its recommendations. The project is led by Jason Q. Purnell, assistant professor at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. Read more about For the Sake of All.
altonmemorialchildcenter_720“We are also proud of belonging to BJC, and our partnerships with both St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University. We love having the SLCH transport team located at AMH. We had 28 babies delivered last year that needed a higher level of care. The team was either here for the delivery or was called shortly thereafter, and we were able to transition the care of that infant.” Find out more about the women’s center.

Commitment to Community

hawthorne-schoolHawthorn is the region’s first all-girls charter school. Located on N. Kingshighway in St. Louis, the school ultimately will serve 500 girls in grades 6-12. Enrollment is open and tuition is free. The school is affiliated with the successful Young Women’s Leadership Network, which was founded by Washington University alum and Board of Trustees member Ann Rubenstein Tisch. Read more about the Hawthorn School.
The MySci Resource CenterThe 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.

WUSTL's College Prep ProgramThe 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 more about WashU’s College Prep Program.

Ten finalists competed for more than $100,000 in YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition funding in partnership with Washington University’s Skandalaris Center. In the 10th annual competition, all of the winners serve children with many involved in the local education community. Read more about YouthBridge in the St. Louis Business Journal.

Magnet for Talent

IdeaLabs problem day 2015Founded in 2013, IDEA Labs is a bioengineering design and entrepreneurship incubator at Washington University in which engineering and medical students work on unmet needs in healthcare to present entrepreneurial solutions. In the last two years, IDEA Labs has been responsible for creating nearly 35 companies. Read about IDEA Labs on St. Louis Public Radio.

St. Louis has landed the newest office of Square, which plans to hire more than 200 people in the hometown of the mobile payment company’s co-founders Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, also a WashU alumn. Square’s St. Louis office in the Cortex district in the Central West End is its eighth office worldwide. The San Francisco-based company plans to hire 40 people locally initially and grow to 200 jobs over the next five years. Read more about Square in St. Louis. 

Research and Innovation

The seven-year, $6.4 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will allow Timothey J. Ley, MD, a leukemia researcher and hematologist at Washington University School of Medicine to continue research aimed at understanding the mutations that initiate acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and how they might be targeted with new approaches. Find out more about Ley’s leukemia research. 
Two vastly different but innovative business startups with direct ties to Washington University in St. Louis have, with the help of Arch Grants, $50,000 in extra capital funding. Arch Grants, which provides equity-free cash awards and free support services to startups willing to headquarter their businesses in St. Louis, announced its 2015 cohort June 18. Among the 11 award-winners were Applied Particle Technology and Invisible Girlfriend.

Founded by WashU alum Andy Rubin, enterprise startup Illumio fast-tracked its way to unicorn status a mere six months after coming out of stealth mode, and 27 months after it raised its first seed round. Read more about Illumio on Fuse. 

Applied Particle Technology, a startup founded by two School of Engineering & Applied Science doctoral students and a professor, won the Breakthrough Technology Award at the Midwest Cleantech Open. APT provides air treatment systems in environments that require high efficiency removal of tiny particles. The innovative system, which operates without a media filter, can also inactivate pathogens and remove toxic fumes or odors. APT’s technology could be used on commercial airplanes, in hospital clean rooms and in other areas where the highest standards of air quality must be maintained. Read more about APT.

Student Spending

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.