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Construction produces over $100 million boost to region

For every dollar the state of New York invests in Binghamton University, about eight go into the economy of the greater Binghamton area and the state.

Jules Forrest/Assistant Photo Editor Between July 2008 and June 2009, Binghamton University?s impact on the region?s economy was worth $741 million. Students? volunteer work alone generated about $5 million.

According to Sean McKitrick, assistant provost and director of the Office of Institutional Research at BU, which conducts statistical analyses of the University, BU’s overall impact on the region from July 2008 through June 2009 amounted to $741 million.

This figure represents the economic growth in the region that can be attributed to BU.

“Every dollar that the University spends on salaries, for example, will result in an extra growth, an impact beyond that,” McKitrick explained, noting that those who are employed by the University live and spend their money in the Binghamton area, thus contributing to its economy. “Our economic impact counts for around 11 percent of gross domestic product in Broome and Tioga counties.”

Construction on campus in particular is a key part of the University’s economic impact on the region. According to McKitrick, the total amount spent for construction on campus from 2008-09 was about $70 million.

“[The University] has $70 million, and then they spend that money,” McKitrick said. “Some of that goes to the construction workers, for example, and they go out to dinner or they have apartments or stay in hotels, which just impacts everything further. And so, the overall economic impact of construction alone was more than $100 million [from 2008-09].”

The University also supports more than 9,000 full- and part-time jobs in the region. Merry Harris, director of the City of Binghamton’s Economic Development Office, said she recognized the importance of BU’s impact on the area.

“The construction projects on campus, which count in the many, many millions, certainly bring huge economic benefits and jobs to the area,” Harris said. “The cutting edge, world-class research being conducted at BU has tremendous potential and brings people from around the world into our community.”

The University’s presence in Binghamton has also been a boon for independent developers who are taking advantage of an increased demand for more student housing Downtown. Andrew Block, the executive assistant to Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, looked favorably on the growth of student housing in the city.

“The city welcomes these projects,” Block said. “We anticipate they will bring more residents, businesses and events Downtown and across the community. Our efforts to make Binghamton more vital and more vibrant depend on strengthening our Downtown core, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Harris echoed that sentiment.

“The new Downtown student housing projects … will have a big economic impact even beyond the construction investment,” she said. “More students will spend time living, eating and shopping Downtown, as well as participating in events and activities that make the city a better place to live. We expect a lot of complimentary retail and service development to grow in the city as a result.”

BU students also contribute to the community through volunteer work, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

“The students do a really, really good job of impacting things through volunteer activity,” McKitrick said. “And of course, this is just in value, because they’re not paid — but student volunteers add somewhere around $5 million of value to the Broome and Tioga counties.”

Surveys of BU alumni also indicate the University’s impact on the future success of its graduates. In a 2008-09 alumni survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, 88 percent said that leadership skills learned at BU had benefited their careers, and 94 percent said that the commitment to life-long learning they had acquired at BU had done likewise.

“These sorts of things we don’t have a dollar figure for, but we definitely can say that, according to the alumni, an education really did make a big difference in their ability to be promoted and to be very good at what they do after they leave us,” McKitrick said.

According to PayScale’s 2010-11 college salary report, Binghamton University graduates make an average starting salary of $49,700, more than graduates of Syracuse University and Vassar College.