Local economy runs in part on Union

Publication Date

When Paul Camelo, franchise owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts blocks from campus, recently moved his cramped store to bigger digs directly across the street, he wanted to recognize the College.

“We get so many Union students, athletes, employees and alumni, we thought it was important to show our appreciation,” Camelo said of his store on Upper Union Street. “We wanted to make them feel at home.”

It’s hard for customers to miss the Union presence when they stop in for a Boston crème donut, breakfast sandwich or cup of coffee.

With the blessing of corporate officials in Canton, Mass., Camelo had a Garnet-inspired wall mural created that features the Union Athletics logo surrounded by action photos of student-athletes at the College.

He also installed soft-seating and booths in hopes of creating an off-campus study space for students, though it is also accessible to the general public.

“We’ve created a space that ties the campus community and the store,” Camelo said. “People seem to love it. It’s become a real talking point.”

Camelo’s store is only one example of Union’s role as a key contributor to the vitality and economic vibrancy of Schenectady and the surrounding region.

The College’s impact is highlighted in the latest report by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU). Union contributed $322.5 million to the Capital Region economy in 2015. This included $21.1 million generated by its 2,200 students and thousands of visitors, according to the analysis done by the Center for Governmental Research. The center conducted the statewide study for the CICU.

With 865 employees and an annual payroll of more than $55 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. The College built or renovated 14 major structures over the past 10 years. Among the projects were the Taylor Music Center, Lippman Hall, Karp Hall, Peter Irving Wold Center, Henle Dance Pavilion, Wicker Wellness Center, Kelly Adirondack Center, Breazzano Fitness Center and the recently completed Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts.

The College’s thousands of visitors come to campus each year for admissions tours, concerts, conferences, reunions, homecoming, exhibits, and sporting events and other events. Many of these visitors are from out-of-town and stay in area hotels, dine in local restaurants and patronize local retail businesses.

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 is among the 100-plus private, not-for-profit colleges and universities that collectively generated $79.6 billion in economic activity for New York state in 2015, an increase of $5.3 billion since 2013.

The total represents the sum of three primary areas of spending – institutional impact, academic medical centers and student and visitor spending. Institutional impact represents research, construction, instruction, salaries and spillover spending. Academic medical centers include patient revenue, the estimated benefits of residents and fellows and other indirect and induced efforts of the center. Student and visitor spending has a significant impact on discretionary spending at restaurants, retailers and lodging facilities.

“Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are among New York’s most significant economic drivers,” said Mary Beth Labate, CICU’s president. “They are committed community partners, forming the bedrock of cities and towns in all corners of the state.”