The significant economic impact of Hobart and William Smith Colleges on New York State – slightly more than $269 million according to a new economic analysis released by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities – has been featured in a recent Finger Lakes Times article.
The front-page article notes that the Colleges’ total impact increased by about $25 million since 2013 and that the $269 million includes direct spending by HWS, construction and labor costs, and estimated student and visitor impact. The report’s data is from the Center for Governmental Research.
“It really showcases that we’re all in this together,” says President Mark D. Gearan in the article, adding that the impact encompasses the local and regional levels, and downtown Geneva’s revitalization.
The article also includes details on the Colleges’ fifth consecutive payment to the City of Geneva as part of a 10-year, $1.7 million commitment that was established to assist in balancing the city’s budget. Gearan presented a check for $176,652 to Geneva City Manager Matt Horn on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“This agreement and the funding it provides represents only a part of the commitment on behalf of the Colleges to support community and economic development in the city of Geneva,” says City Manager Matt Horn. “They are true partners in our revitalization, and we are fortunate to have a productive relationship.”
News of the Colleges’ economic impact was also noted in the Rochester Business Journal (RBJ).
The full Finger Lakes Times article and RBJ piece are as follows:
The Finger Lakes Times
HWS economic clout: $269M
Commission says that’s how much Colleges benefit the region
Steve Buchiere • Jan. 19, 2017
GENEVA — Hobart and William Smith Colleges may not pay property taxes, but it wields plenty of economic impact in the region and state, a new study says.
A recent analysis by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities said the Colleges’ total economic impact in 2015 was $269.2 million, an increase of about $25 million since 2013. The commission used data from the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester.
The report said higher education was a significant economic driver in New York state in 2015, and that independent institutions of higher education had a nearly $80 billion impact on the state’s economy.
The $269 million HWS total includes direct spending by the school, construction and labor costs, and estimated student and visitor impact.
While those numbers are not specific to Geneva and the region as a whole, there’s little doubt that HWS has a big impact on the city and region’s economy, said the school’s leader.
“It really showcases that we’re all in this together,” said HWS President Mark Gearan, who pointed to the Colleges’ 10- year $1.7 million commitment to helping the city balance its budget.
On Tuesday, Gearan presented City Manager Matt Horn with a check for $176,652. It was the fifth payment HWS has made to the city.
“This agreement and the funding it provides represents only a part of the commitment on behalf of the Colleges to support community and economic development in the city of Geneva,” Horn said. “They are true partners in our revitalization, and we are fortunate to have a productive relationship.”
Gearan said there is a symbiotic relationship between HWS, the city and region. Each benefits when the other is doing well.
The city’s revitalized downtown — it features top restaurants and nightspots, as well as an increased number of retail and office sites — is good for recruitment for both students, faculty and other staff, Gearan stressed.
“The energy and momentum (in the city) is real, and want to continue to be a part of that,” he said. “When Geneva (and the region) thrives, that is good for the Colleges.”
Gearan noted HWS’ commitment to that end, including its office space on Seneca Street and its involvement in city initiatives that draw on the talents of the Colleges’ faculty, staff and students.
“We want to enhance the ethos and ethics of being engaged,” said Gearan, who will leave HWS this summer after 18 years as president.
Gearan said the emphasis on civic engagement that developed during his tenure will be part of the “ongoing expectation” of HWS after he departs.
The Colleges said the economic impact numbers are determined by weighing areas of spending that include institutional impact coupled with student and visitor spending. Institutional impact includes money spent on research, construction, salaries and spillover spending.
Among projects that had a big impact on institutional spending, said the Colleges, was $14 million used mostly for the completion of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts, a facility that HWS said “greatly enhances the Colleges’ role in local and regional advancement of arts and culture.”
Gearan noted that HWS uses local contractors and vendors whenever possible to support the local economy.
Salaries totaled more than $102 million, and this is money that generally stays in the region for spending on housing and goods and services, the Colleges said.
HWS’ impact on the region through student and visitor spending was responsible for more than $21 million in benefits to the tourism-rich Finger Lakes region, according to the report. This number, said the Colleges, includes discretionary spending at restaurants, hotels and retailers by students, as well as their visiting friends and family.
Institutions like Hobart and William Smith play a major role in ensuring a thriving economy in their locales, said the leader of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.
“Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are one of New York’s strongest economic engines and are a strong and committed partner of the state,” said Laura L. Anglin, the commission’s president.
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Rochester Business Journal
Geneva Colleges’ impact tops $269 million
Lori Gable • Jan. 27, 2017
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a significant economic driver, with a total economic impact of more than $269 million, an increase of $25 million since 2013, a recent analysis by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities shows.
The annual study, which used 2015 data from the Center for Governmental Research Inc., includes the colleges’ direct spending, construction and labor costs as well as the impact from students and visitors.
“We have a focus on our responsibility. There is a very natural dynamic here,” said Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith. “As Geneva succeeds and thrives, it is also good for the broader community and our overall economy. We see our role in that as one of the larger employers here.”
The report shows the colleges employed 1,660 people in 2015 through direct and spillover impact, with an additional 10 spinoff jobs from research projects. Salaries totaled more than $102 million.
There has been an increase in faculty, staff and students, which Gearan said accounts for part of the $25 million increase in economic impact.
Over the past 10 years, the student body has grown from roughly 1,800 to more than 2,200 students, he noted. The colleges hired additional faculty to keep the ratio of faculty to students at 11-to-1.
Through the student growth came an increase in spending, Gearan added, which added up to nearly $22 million, including the visitor impact of their families and friends.
“They spend on housing, restaurants, retail, reaching broadly across the private sector,” Gearan said.
Another economic growth factor was construction of the $30 million Gearan Center for the Performing Arts. The three-story, 65,000-square-foot facility is home to the music, dance, theater and media departments. It includes performance space, classrooms and faculty offices. It is for campus use and community events.
The center was named for Gearan, in tribute to his 18 years of service as leader of the colleges, the longest of any president in the history of Hobart and William Smith. Gearan is stepping down in June to take a post at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
“Fifty percent of the center’s construction was done by local companies,” Gearan said. “We have a real focus on thinking of ways we can buy locally, not just large construction projects but even in small ways.”
Receptions at the President’s House aim to source local fare that is highlighted on menus published for the event, he said.
“We will note that the cheese is from a neighboring farm,” he said. “From cuisine to construction, we think it’s important to support local businesses.”
Hobart and William Smith have supported Geneva financially in an agreement to help the city balance its budget. The colleges agreed to pay $1.7 million over 10 years. The colleges paid the Ontario County city $176,652 on Jan. 17 in its fifth installment.
“It’s absolutely a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Mathew Horn, Geneva city manager. “In today’s competitive college environment, students (and parents) want to be sure that they are experiencing college years in a vibrant, dynamic backdrop.
“As Geneva continues to revitalize, this will drive the colleges’ competitiveness. As the colleges become more competitive and attract more applicants, student and institutional spending increases, as does involvement in civic engagement efforts—all of which make Geneva and Hobart and William Smith a great place to live and study.”
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo selected Geneva as one of 10 cities to be awarded $10 million in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Geneva is to collaborate with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council on ways to generate long-term opportunities for new growth.
“The colleges have been an incredible partner in our economic development efforts,” Horn said, noting the recent relocation of nearly 80 employees to long vacant office space downtown. “There are lots of boots on the ground at lunchtime and after work. They are among our greatest community partners and assets.”
A strategic partnership between the city and the colleges called the Geneva 2020 initiative includes business partners, nonprofit agencies and the Geneva City School District. The project began in 2010 when the public school district was placed under a watch by the state Department of Education, Gearan said.
“We came together with the goal of improving the graduation rate, which was 70 percent at the time,” Gearan said. “Today it is almost 85 percent. It shows what we can do when we work together.”
Kent Gardner, chief economist at the Center for Governmental Research, said the impact of the Geneva 2020 initiative’s success will add to the economic benefit as well, especially as businesses look to locate in Geneva and attract top talent.
“Businesses need to have confidence in the local school system,” Gardner said. “It is a key determinant.”
Gardner sees the role of Hobart and William Smith extending beyond education.
“They produce graduates for the workforce, locally, regionally and statewide,” Gardner said. “They also play a role in the community’s quality of life by contributing to the arts and cultural offerings, which makes it easier for businesses to recruit. And most importantly they attract people from outside the region, which brings outside money to the area, making the economy larger.”
A significant number of the students attending Hobart and William Smith are from outside the Finger Lakes. Some 37 percent represent New York, 55 percent are from other states and 6 percent are international students.
Gearan said they develop a commitment to the area.
“Most of our students leave very attached to Geneva,” he said. “I’m going to California next week and I’m sure I’ll hear, ‘How’s Geneva?’ It’s a frequently asked question from our alums who come here from all around the country and the world. They leave here with a deep affection for Geneva and its people.”