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UAlbany Economic Impact Tops $1 Billion Annually

Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 3, 2004) -- The economic impact of the University at Albany upon New York State has topped the billion-dollar mark annually, it was announced Thursday at an event sponsored by the Center for Economic Growth and KeyBank, and held at the Marriott Hotel.

The findings were released in a publication, “A Capital Investment: The $1.1 Billion Economic Impact of the University at Albany,” which used the results of an extensive economic impact study of the University conducted by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC). The study by CDRPC indicated that just over $1 billion of the University’s total economic impact is felt in the Capital Region.

“The University is an essential part of the economy through employment, through the money its students spend while attending, and through its research growth, which has played an enormous role in attracting technology-related industry to what we now know as ‘Tech Valley,’” said Thomas X. Geisel, president of KeyBank and co-chair of the UAlbany Economic Impact Statement subcommittee of the University at Albany Foundation’s Council for Economic Outreach.

“In reality, the University’s economic impact goes far beyond what its direct expenditures suggest,” said Kelly Lovell, president of the Center for Economic Growth and Geisel’s fellow co-chair of the Economic Impact Statement subcommittee. “The University has created a climate through its own initiatives that has had a tremendous ripple effect. It has been a key player in the transformation of this region into one of the nation’s high-technology research and development leaders.”

Using the latest methodology of RIMS II, the chief system for weighing economic impact of organizations used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce, CDRPC estimates an overall UAlbany economic impact of $1.119 billion annually in New York State -- $1.005 billion of that in the Capital Region.

University at Albany Interim President John R. Ryan, after unveiling a four-foot reproduction of the Impact Statement front cover, noted that there are many UAlbany initiatives creating economic impact and yet not covered by the RIMS II model. These include the success of nanotechnology research in attracting a Tokyo Electron, Ltd., research and development center to the Albany NanoTech campus, conducting numerous cooperative ventures with high-tech firms in the region and in helping to encourage several regional spin-off companies. He also noted the business incubator program at UAlbany’s biotechnology-oriented east campus, and the impact of the Campus’s researchers and facilities in attracting anchor east campus tenants Albany Molecular Research, Inc., and Taconic Biotech.

Ryan also noted “the public policy leaders of great foresight who have meant so much to the economic impact of this University, this state, and this region over the last decade. I speak of New York Governor George Pataki, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and our local state legislators.”

David Lang Wardle, principal planner and economist for CDRPC, acknowledged the ripple effect, beyond RIMS II, created by such efforts. “These are all real factors for economic growth,” said Wardle. “UAlbany is a university of substantial size that is not in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, in itself it is a critical part of the critical mass of the regional economy. It adapts to the needs of its community. Its education school impacts K-12 education. It positions itself with other universities in the region to create valuable synergies. Because it provides quality higher education at a reasonable cost, it keeps more New Yorkers within the state, both for college and after graduation.”

The Economic Impact Statement released Thursday compared the University’s growth in overall impact from its 1990 to 2000 statements and then to the current one. It indicated that whereas, in the first ten years, economic impact grew at 5.4 percent per year -- from $400 million to $679 million -- in the last four years it has grown to two and a half times that rate, 13.3 percent. Much of that, according to the Statement, has been due to a surge of research funding and expenditures, the latter of which climbed from $64 million in fiscal 1997-98 to $121 million in 2002-03. Research funding, which predicts future expenditures, was even more impressive, climbing to $193 million in 2002-03.

The Statement also showed that UAlbany’s economic impact has climbed while basic support to the University has remained fairly constant since 1990. In fiscal 2003, UAlbany’s state appropriation was $126.5 million; meaning that the University returned an economic impact of $8.85 for every $1 provided it by New Yorkers.

The Statement viewed the University’s total revenues, expenditures and employment for its last year of record, 2002-03, as well as estimated its annual regional impact due to non-tuition student spending ($89.5 million) and visitor spending ($12.8 million). It noted as well the University’s “Impact Beyond Numbers” in terms of cultural, educational and recreational assets.

Hugh A. Johnson, Jr., of First Albany Companies, was keynote speaker at the Economic Impact Statement event. He recalled UAlbany’s research promise of a decade ago. “Although I expressed optimism at that time, I secretly had my hand behind my back with my fingers crossed and a whole ton of skepticism in my heart,” said Johnson. “I no longer have my fingers crossed and a whole ton of skepticism in my heart.”

For the complete reports, “Economic Impact of the University at Albany on New York State” and “Economic Impact of the University at Albany on the Capital Region,” produced by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, go to www.albany.edu/outreach/ecoimpact.html.


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