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UR plays growing role here

Rochester Business Journal
May 16, 2014

The opening of the Institute for Data Science will further increase employment at UR, which now is directly and indirectly responsible for some 50,300 jobs, the CGR report estimates. (Rendering courtesy of the University of Rochester)

The University of Rochester added more than 2,000 jobs in the past two years and expanded its economic impact, solidifying its place as the economic engine for the region, a new report from the Center for Governmental Research Inc. states.

The report measured the total impact of the university across the region, finding it is directly and indirectly responsible for an estimated 50,300 jobs, with more to come with the opening of the Institute for Data Science.

The UR generates more than $2.8 billion in total wages.

“The University of Rochester is the economic engine for the Rochester metropolitan region,” the report notes. “As New York State’s eighth-largest private employer, the University of Rochester is Rochester’s largest employer, and it continues to grow, spur new innovation, spin off new technology and attract new research and other investment dollars to the region.”

UR president Joel Seligman said the results affirm the central place the university has assumed in the local economy. Already the region’s largest employer, UR continued to grow and is about to begin what Seligman said could be its best year ever.

“We’re shaping up for one of the most significant years in our history,” he said. “We’re opening College Town, the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Institute for Data Science.”

Total employment had grown to 25,773 people at the end of 2013, including part-time, full-time and time-as-reported employees. The university has the equivalent of 22,451 full-time employees.

UR purchased goods and services in excess of $854 million in 2013, and roughly 23 percent of that sum, or $196 million, was spent in the Rochester area.

It also spent an average of $241 million per year for capital improvements over the last five years. And it received more than $3.4 billion in external funding from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2013.

Visitors brought another economic benefit, the report states. Those visiting the university booked more than 24,700 hotel rooms and lodged in regional hotels for more than 37,100 nights.

The report examined the economic impact from two perspectives, considering both the local sector and traded sector as well as the traded sector alone, and looked at all contributions of the university and its affiliates. The traded sector produces goods and services “exported” from the local economy, which thus bring money into it from outside.

The traded sector estimate took a more conservative measurement that attempted to discern which elements of the university are unique to the region, such as federal research funding. This measurement does not account for services that would be provided elsewhere locally if the university were not in Rochester, such as routine medical services.

An analysis of the combined local and traded sectors found that the university and its affiliates generated 50,300 jobs in the Rochester metro area and more than $2.8 billion in wages. By this estimate, the university also was responsible for $160 million in taxes paid in the Rochester metro area and the New York economy.

Examining only the traded sector, the university and affiliates generated 33,900 jobs, close to $1.9 billion in wages and slightly more than $110 million in tax revenue.

The report also focused on the potential of the Institute for Data Science, which is a major initiative in the university’s 2013-18 strategic plan. The institute builds on a partnership the university entered with IBM Corp. in 2010, one that established a $100 million supercomputing center known as the Health Sciences Center for Innovation.

The university also recently announced a $50 million investment in the field of data science, building on another $50 million UR already has spent in this field.

“The (Institute for Data Science) will position the UR as one of only a handful of elite research facilities across the country with supercomputing capacity on the cutting edge of the rapidly growing field of ‘big data’ in higher education and business,” the report notes.

The center is expected to have roughly 20 principal investigators at full implementation in about 10 years, the report states. These investigators will have a support staff of roughly 100 people and are expected to attract more than $530 million worth of new research in the first 10 years of operation.

In total the center will generate 460 construction and permanent jobs, UR officials noted.

There is also “catalytic potential” to spur new business startups, the report states.

Seligman sees more areas of potential growth, including within the University of Rochester Medical Center’s regionalization strategy. As the center refines its strategic plans, there likely will be much more room for expansion, Seligman said.

“We’re likely to see a period of great change and potentially significant growth,” he said.

Not all aspects of the university can be measured in dollars, the report explains. Led by the Eastman School of Music and Memorial Art Gallery, the university has “created a cultural environment that is unmatched in accessibility and depth.”

The university also has led a shift from a manufacturing-based economy to one based on knowledge creation, the report notes. It has allowed individuals to successfully move to new careers, either by directing them into new fields or enhancing their capacity through further education.

“The University of Rochester is a pillar of strength for the Rochester community,” the report states. “As defined by its own strategic plan, the university creates a culture of transformative ideas where educational innovation thrives in a broad array of academic programs and applied service organizations.

“The university is positioned to make significant contributions not only to the local and regional economy but the national and global marketplace for many years to come.”

5/16/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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