"While higher education is a major economic force on Long Island, for sure, these institutions are more than just economic engines in and of themselves."
By Robert A. Scott, President, Adelphi University
from The Garden City News
Imagine a Chamber of Commerce that decided to initiate a strategic planning process for community development, including the following principles and priorities. First, they want to recruit an enterprise that would produce a product or service of which everyone could be proud. Second, they want an enterprise whose employees are highly educated and willing to be active in community organizations. Third, they want an enterprise that is respectful of the environment. Fourth, they want an enterprise willing to partner with the schools, civic community, and businesses. Fifth, they want an enterprise that would have a significant and positive impact on the economy through taxes paid and both operating and capital expenditures.
Well, in Garden City, that enterprise is Adelphi University, whose yearly budget of over $210 million easily translates into an annual impact of over one-half billion dollars, without counting the results of over $350 million in recent and planned capital expenditures.
In addition, the university collected FICA, federal and state income taxes, and other taxes of over $28 million from employees. When one adds in the restaurant, hotel, and other expenditures of those who visit campus during the year for Homecoming, Reunion, cultural events, graduation, and athletic competitions, including NCAA championships, the economic impacts grows even larger.
And Adelphi is but one of nineteen colleges and universities on Long Island. Cumulatively, these institutions collect some $1 billion in FICA and taxes from payroll, benefit, and other payments. Their annual operating expenses of over $4.5 billion translate into a nearly $12 billion regional economic impact, counting almost $2.5 billion in projected capital investments before 2015. Then, add in the expenditures of nearly 187,000 students and 38,000 employees to the regional economy for an even greater result.
But this is not all. While higher education is a major economic force on Long Island, for sure, these institutions are more than just economic engines in and of themselves. They also are teachers and partners whose intellectual, cultural, and capital assets spur economic and community development.
The curriculum and scholarly and artistic interests of faculty are the essential assets of a university, organized to prepare students and challenge orthodoxy to ensure a dynamic future. The goals for community development are similar to those of Sustainable Long Island – – equity in citizenship, environmental sustainability, economic opportunities.
Campus cultural calendars indicate but a portion of the lectures, musical performances, dance programs, dramatic productions, and art exhibits made available to the community as well as the campus. The Garden City campus is an official arboretum with a walking guide, and the biennial outdoor sculpture exhibit attracts artists from around the world. Programs such as this, in addition to other services, help make our communities desirable place to buy real estate, raise a family, and open a business.
The buildings, grounds, equipment, and sports facilities of Adelphi and other universities are made available to the civic and corporate communities for meetings, conferences, and retreats. Community youth teams can play on world-class venues. Extensive multi-media facilities can host inter-continental conferences and residence halls can host “sleep away” retreats for executives and others. The technology platform means that “distance is dead” and conference participants can be included from anywhere in the world, just as we at Adelphi have an interactive course with students in the Western Sahara.
Campuses work with other groups to host and facilitate symposia on business, health, and environmental topics; offer adult fitness and cardiac rehabilitation services to the community; accommodate the children of working parents as well as students in early learning centers; sponsor programs such as the Adelphi Prize for Leadership for local high school juniors and the Community Fellows Program providing college interns for non-profit groups; and co-host conferences with partners such as Winthrop University Hospital and North Shore-LIJ.
The capital assets of colleges and universities are an important contributor to local economies. For example, the last capital bond issue for private higher education in the New York State budget was forecast to generate over $1 billion in improvements, and nearly 11,500 new jobs statewide, with more than $100 million in projects completed and over 1,000 new jobs added on Long Island alone.
Universities are teachers, models, and partners in economic and community development. We use our intellectual, cultural, and capital assets to prepare professionals, managers, and artists; to contribute to the quality of life that attracts and sustains businesses; and to create jobs and wealth. This is community development, university style, the planner’s dream partner.
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