Lincoln's university campus has transformed the region's ailing economy, according to a report this week.
Five years after opening, the university has raised Lincolnshire's GDP by £24 million a year and created 600 jobs. By the time expansion is complete, GDP will have risen by £65 million and almost 2,000 jobs will have been created.
"The direct impacts are comparable in size to those of very large inward investments," says the report, which was commissioned by the Lincolnshire Training and Enterprise Council (Tec).
Lincolnshire's 600,000-strong population was until recently largely dependent on the agricultural, food processing and engineering industries. Since the decline of these sectors, many young people have left the region.
From 1996, the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside - soon to be renamed the University of Lincoln - has invested more than £60 million to create a campus on a brownfield site in the centre of Lincoln. By 2003, some 80 per cent of ULH students and the administration of the university will relocate to Lincoln.
The report finds that while the university now acts as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Brayford Pool area, the lack of a university in the region previously, meant that Lincolnshire's economy was unable to grow to keep up with more affluent regions.
"Lincolnshire's brightest young people had to move away to study and there was no counter balancing flow in to the county of young people from other areas."
With no graduates and lecturers to create small firms and spin-off companies near their university, there was no enterprise culture.
The university came about in 1993 when the local Tec began to pursue the idea. Nottingham Trent University was selected as a partner, but withdrew a year later when the government refused to make a special allocation of funded student numbers. ULH stepped in and by September 2000 there were 4,000 students on campus.
"It is important to stress the magnitude of this achievement," the report says. "ULH is not a wealthy university, but has been in recent years one of the largest investors in new buildings in large part due to the investment in Lincoln."
And the report finds that local firms did not benefit from the technical support and management education that a university can offer.