Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ total economic impact is slightly more than $269 million, increasing by about $25 million since 2013, according to a recent economic analysis released by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU). Using data from the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) in Rochester, the report shows the $269 million total includes direct spending by HWS, construction and labor costs, and estimated student and visitor impact.
Breaking the numbers down is a vital exercise that helps the Colleges and both local and regional officials to understand the role that HWS plays in Geneva and beyond. The report showed that 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 study arrives at the same time the Colleges are making the 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. A check for $176,652.92 was presented by President Mark D. Gearan to Geneva City Manager Matt Horn on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“We look very carefully at the information that CICU releases each year,” says Gearan. “Our continued strength as an institution is tied to the health of our region. We value our role in helping to ensure the economic well-being of Geneva and the Finger Lakes region.”
The total economic impact numbers, according to the CICU website, are determined by weighing three areas of spending: institutional impact, academic medical centers and student and visitor spending.
Institutional impact includes funding spent on research, construction, salaries and spillover spending. At HWS, this amount included $14 million used primarily for the completion of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art facility that greatly enhances the Colleges’ role in local and regional advancement of arts and culture.
Salaries were also a major part of HWS’ impact, totaling more than $102 million. These salaries represent money that often remains in the region, spent on goods and services or general living expenses.
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 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. “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,” says Laura L. Anglin, CICU’s president.
The City of Geneva has received state-wide and national attention for its revitalization and communitywide efforts. The City recently received a $10 million investment through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The grant is part of a $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo to encourage development in 10 communities across the state. In 2015, for its inclusive, innovative and ongoing efforts to influence positive, communitywide change, Geneva was named a 2015 All-America City, a highly-selective honor awarded annually by the National Civic League to only 10 cities across the country.