Union’s economic impact on region nearly $300 million annually

Downtown businesses cite the Union College effect

Union’s economic impact on region nearly $300 million annually

Union students are a familiar sight at downtown Schenectady businesses.

When the Hampton Inn in downtown Schenectady opened in 2007, Mounssif Slaoui knew that to be successful, he would need the business Union could steer its way.

“That was one question we faced from our investors and others before we opened,” said Slaoui, the hotel’s manager. “Would Union be a part of this? The downtown didn’t have a good reputation, and the college was a critical part for any revitalization.”

Nearly eight years later, Slaoui has seen firsthand what he refers to as the Union College effect: the hotel routinely hosts College visitors for everything from job interviews to prospective students and their families.

What’s more, its 93 rooms sell out completely a year in advance for major College events including Commencement, ReUnion and Homecoming.

In turn, these Union visitors help inject life into the downtown by shopping and dining at the multitude of businesses that have sprung up in recent years.

“We are really happy to have the College here,” said Slaoui, whose staff often wears Union apparel on the job. “We consider it a partnership.”

Union’s impact on the local and regional economy is highlighted in the latest report released this week by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

The College contributed $298.7 million to the Capital Region economy in 2013. This included $20.5 million its 2,200 students and thousands of visitors annually to the College generated, according to the analysis done by the Center for Governmental Research, which conducted the statewide study for the CICU.

With 868 employees and an annual payroll of more than $52 million, Union is among the largest employers in the region. The College is also a major purchaser of goods and services in the community, as well as a source of vital construction and service contracts.

Recent construction projects at the College include the Wicker Wellness Center, the Henle Dance Pavilion and Karp Hall.

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.

Union's significant role in the regional economy is part of the $74.3 billion the 100-plus independent colleges and universities in New York state contributed to the state's economy in 2013, according to CGR's analysis.

“New York State continues to depend on its higher education institutions to educate our next generation of leaders, as well as contribute to our future economic growth,” said CICU president Laura L. Anglin.

“Playing the role of anchor tenants with communities around the state, the Independent Sector educates hundreds of thousands of students while also providing jobs and significant fiscal impact for the communities where they are located. Throughout the state, our campuses are significant contributors to both the economy and community. They are customers for local and state vendors, especially when it comes to construction.”

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.