30 years ago, UT Tyler was viewed as a commuter college and students from around Tyler would fill the campus. Nowadays, it's students from Dallas, Houston and beyond planning roots on the campus. It's where Traci Kenner earned her bachelors degree and is a lawyer in Tyler. With the student population increasing, she said more young people and alumni staying in Tyler.

"You can see the university grow as the city grows," Kenner said.

Research from Brookings, showed 42 percent of alumni from a four year university, remain in the area of their college. With that, the Tyler chamber of commerce said it helped pipeline jobs between UT Tyler and the city. Experts said when there is a major university presence, there are strong technology driven economies.

Michael Tidwell, the school president, said making the community economy stronger is a priority within the university.

"The universities who do not that well tend to strengthen the community of which they operate," Tidwell said.

According to the state demographer, Dr. Loyd Potter, Texas' economic growth pattern could include Tyler with areas such as Dallas and Houston to being the states major cities.