Skip to content

Union's impact on regional economy is $274 million, study finds



Photo by Matt Milless
Photo by Matt Milless

Union College has an estimated annual economic impact of $274 million on the Capital Region, a report released by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities shows.

This includes $19.5 million contributed to the economy by its 2,200 students and thousands of visitors annually to the College, according to the analysis done by the Center for Governmental Research, which conducted the statewide study for the CICU.

With 870 employees and an annual payroll of $48 million, Union is among the largest employers in the region. The College is also a major purchaser of goods and services in the community and a source of vital construction and service contracts.

"As one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges, we are proud to call the city of Schenectady and the greater Capital Region home," said College President Stephen C. Ainlay. "For more than 200 years, Union has tried to be mindful of its responsibility as a good neighbor and we are always looking at practical and innovative ways to enhance the economic, social and cultural environment of our local community.”

In recent years, Union has engaged in a number of partnerships with the city, including renovating a baseball field in Central Park, installing public surveillance cameras to help deter crime in the surrounding neighborhood and making critical improvements to cross walks and sidewalks on the perimeter of the campus.

Union has been recognized nationally for its positive contributions to the city of Schenectady, including real dollars invested through its foundations and annual budgets; the presence felt from payroll, research and purchasing power; and faculty and student involvement in community service.

Each year, nearly 1,200 Union students participate in a range of community service projects, representing more than 12,000 hours of service. Volunteers at the Kenney Community Center tutored and read to local children, acted as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and participated in the state Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program (VITA). Since its launch in 2005, the VITA program at Union has secured more than $2 million in cumulative tax refunds for local residents.

Union's economic impact of $274 million is part of the $63.2 billion the 100-plus independent colleges and universities in New York state contributed to the state's economy in 2011, according to CGR's analysis.

“Higher education remains one of New York State’s most significant economic sectors," said CICU President Laura L. Anglin. “The independent sector of higher education is a vibrant contributor to the economy and community. Private, not-for-profit higher education is the source of a large number of jobs. Our colleges and universities are significant customers for local vendors, especially when it comes to construction. They are anchor tenants, talent magnets, workforce and innovation catalysts and community partners.”

CICU is a statewide association representing the public policy interests of the chief executives of more than 100 independent colleges and universities in New York State.

To view Union's economic impact data, click here.

To read the CICU's release on the study, click here.