Economic Impact Study of Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory: University of Chicago

Beginning in October 2010, the University of Chicago retained Anderson Economic Group to perform an economic impact study of all parts of the college. This several-part project began with economic impact studies of Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, two national laboratories based near Chicago that have been administered by the University throughout their history.

AEG released two separate reports, one for each lab. Each report contained three main sections: a review of the labs’ operations, including a brief history and summary of funding sources; an assessment of the labs’ economic impact, including jobs created and earnings brought to the Chicago metro area and the state of Illinois; and an accounting of important research activities occurring at both labs, and the significance of their contributions to basic science.

Argonne Economic Impact

Fermilab Economic Impact

Both labs were found to have a significant impact on local employment and earnings, since they drew almost exclusively on federal funding that would have been invested elsewhere if not for the lab’s location near Chicago. We obtained detailed expenditure data from the labs, and we geo-coded this info to determine the share of expenditures that remained in the region. In addition, in each report, AEG summarized contributions to national and international science research projects at the forefront of various fields.

AEG cited specific projects at Argonne that have contributed to the development of innovations from hybrid electric vehicles to radioactive material detection. AEG noted that Fermilab was the site of the world’s fastest particle accelerator until recently, and continues to be at the forefront of research into neutrinos. Throughout, we emphasized the unique role that basic science plays in facilitating innovation and technological advances.

The report on Argonne National Laboratory was provided to the university at the end of June 2011, while the Fermilab report was finalized in mid-August. Each report was prominently displayed, along with accompanying brochures, on the university’s website by the end of October 2011.