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Big impact

Union worth $274M to region

Universities group computes economic impact

Monday, November 26, 2012
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The Nott Memorial at Union College.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
The Nott Memorial at Union College.

— Union College has about a quarter-billion-dollar economic impact on the Capital Region, according to a report by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

The college employs 870 people and its payroll is $48 million, which makes it among the region’s largest employers and it is also a major purchaser of goods and services and construction and service contracts.

The economic analysis was done by the Center for Governmental Research at the request of CICU, which is an advocacy group for more than 100 independent colleges and universities in New York state.

It found that direct spending by Union in 2011 was $114.3 million; construction spending was $9.5 million; labor compensation was $106.5 million; and there was $19.6 million in spending by the 2,200 students and visitors to the college. Adding in tax revenue and factoring in spin-off economic benefits, the report concluded that the college had a $274 million effect on the economy.

Union’s economic impact of $274 million is part of the $63.2 billion the 100-plus independent colleges and universities in New York state contributed to the state’s economy in 2011, according to CGR’s analysis.

In the Capital Region, that impact was $3.7 billion, which includes $2.9 billion in direct spending by colleges and universities; $300.5 million in student and visitor spending; and $516.2 million in impact from academic medical centers. Colleges and universities in the Capital Region employ about 23,000 people.

Spokesman Phil Wajda said college officials were not surprised by the findings and noted that the Capital District Regional Planning Commission did an economic impact study five years ago and came up with similar figures.

“I think it just reaffirms the commitment the college has — not only to the city but the region as a whole. We take that tradition very seriously,” he said.

As a nonprofit, the college pays no property taxes, which has been a source of contention with the city. However, college officials point out that they have partnered with the city on a number of initiatives such as renovating a baseball field in Central Park, installing public surveillance cameras to help deter crime in the surrounding neighborhood and making improvements to crosswalks and sidewalks on the perimeter of the campus.

In addition, nearly 1,200 students spend more than 12,000 hours on community service projects each year, according to a college press release. This includes reading to children at the Kenney Community Center tutored and read to local children, serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister and participating in the state Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program (VITA), which has obtained more than $2 million in tax refunds for local residents since its launch in 2005.

“As one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, we are proud to call the city of Schenectady and the greater Capital Region home,” said college President Stephen C. Ainlay in a statement. “For more than 200 years, Union has tried to be mindful of its responsibility as a good neighbor and we are always looking at practical and innovative ways to enhance the economic, social and cultural environment of our local community.”

 
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comments

November 26, 2012
12:23 a.m.

And this didn't warrant Schenectady receiving it's fair share of the County Sales Tax?....Hmmmmmm...The Capo and his gang of abusive robots needs to go....From mouth piece Gary Hughes, Mayor Mc Carthy, Perazzo, King, Brucker, Porterfield, and Erickson..we are in financial dire straights because of this Party Political stranglehold over the city taxpayers....Next time they say this is the best deal....remember this story...the City of Schenectady is getting shafted!

November 26, 2012
6:54 a.m.
mezz3131 says...

SchenectadyScott. Hang up your hate mongering propaganda. You support your father, Vince Riggi. We get that. How about you focus your attention on solutions rather than singing the same old song. Encourage smart people to run for council. Offer YOUR solutions (other than "get rid of them" or "stop spending money"). Do something please. Your comments are just old.

November 26, 2012
8:45 a.m.
tonijean613 says...

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of how many Union College employees actually live within the City- and how much of their "construction" contracts etc actually go to Schenectady businesses and contractors. Other than the 1/2 mile radius immediately around the College- the rest of Schenectady is completely neglected. The profits of Union College are only stimulating the pockets of the CEO's/Administrators. The college keeps taking property off the tax rolls and the City Council and Mayor allow it. The College does not even allow students to live off campus their first 2 years which takes money away from local residents to potentially earn money being student landlords.

November 26, 2012
9:34 a.m.
cfield says...

You have a choice - complain about not getting taxes from the College or appreciate the fact that it is probably not going to happen and look for alternative ways for them to help the City. For example, look for innovative ways to utilize Union's most valuable resources - the students and faculty.

And, although it would be great to receive those taxes - the area down by Barrett, Park Avenue was a deteriorating neighborhood. While the College buildings and individuals do benefit from city services - absent UC buying up those renovating that area - it would have continued to deteriorate, and ultimately would have demanded a significant larger amount of City services.

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