The University of Florida’s economic importance in the state has continued to grow in recent years, thanks to an increase in research grants and rising demand for health care services, according to a new study by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The study found that the university’s total economic impact on the state for the 2009-2010 fiscal year was $8.76 billion, and total employment impact was more than 100,000 jobs. UF’s economic impact — as large as the state’s spectator sports industry that includes professional sports teams and NASCAR — represents the ripple effect of the university’s statewide presence with research and education centers throughout Florida, UF physician practices and Shands HealthCare hospitals and programs, and Extension offices in all 67 counties.

The economic impact from health care makes up a large part of the total and is actually larger than UF operations, said Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist in the food and resource economics department and the study’s lead author. Operations includes money spent on personnel, utilities and supplies.

The economic impact from health care services provided by Shands HealthCare and UF physician outpatient practices was $2.88 billion, and their expenditures were more than $2 billion. The economic impact of UF operations was $2.34 billion, and its expenditures were $1.75 billion. “I continue to be astounded by the impacts of Shands and related health care services,” Hodges said. “Shands at UF alone is a regionally significant health care facility, not just in Florida but for the entire Southeast U.S.”