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Cornell continues to generate more than $3 billion in New York annually

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Simeon Moss

Cornell generated $3.317 billion statewide in fiscal year (FY) 2007, 8 percent more than it did two years prior in 2005 -- and once again, led universities in the state in research expenditures, totaling $659 million, according to an economic impact report newly released by the university.

While the new report does not reflect the recent economic downturn or university actions to reduce expenditures this year, Cornell's budget is highly diversified, and the university projects it will sustain revenues at or near their historical levels for the foreseeable future.

"As one of the state's leading entrepreneurial universities with a $2.8 billion budget, Cornell is a critical resource in this period of economic upheaval to help the state to financial recovery," Cornell President David J. Skorton said. "Even while we're making fiscal adjustments to deal with the current economic situation, Cornell is the economic engine that supports our community as we continue to be a leading economic engine for the state. The actions we are taking now will sustain the university's financial strength over the long term."

Those actions include hiring and construction pauses through June 2009, some staff layoffs and reducing endowment spending by 15 percent for the coming fiscal year. The university is cutting its base budget by $60 million for FY 2010, with an additional $50 million budget correction planned for FY 2011.

However, the Class of 2013 will have an additional 100 students, and tuition, room and board are being increased. Trustees also allocated $35 million from the endowment for student financial aid.

"While some of the multimillion-dollar construction projects that have generated intense economic activity on the Ithaca and New York City campuses have been put on hold, the need for them has not gone away, and many of them will continue when financial conditions improve," said Stephen T. Golding, executive vice president for finance and administration.

For the economic impact study, faculty and researchers in Cornell's Department of City and Regional Planning used a social accounting matrix and IMPLAN software to measure the multiplier effects of Cornell's direct and indirect spending.

Highlights from the report, which analyzed FY 2007, include:

  • Of the $3.317 billion in economic activity Cornell generated throughout the state, $1.654 billion was in central New York, $1.319 billion was in New York City, and $344 million was elsewhere in the state.
  • Cornell is the primary economic engine in Tompkins County, adding more than 16,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in wages to the local economy through direct and indirect spending.
  • Cornell generated $61.2 million in tax revenues for the state and $32.2 million for local county government. Weill Cornell Medical College generated $44.2 million in tax payments to the state and $10.9 million to New York City government.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), which is critical to fulfilling Cornell's land-grant mission, contributed more than $92 million in programs throughout the state; its total economic impact on the state in FY 2007 was $158 million. CCE volunteers gave more than 1.14 million hours of service to important community efforts statewide.
  • Ten New York state businesses licensed 22 Cornell technologies.
  • More than 170,000 visitors to the Ithaca campus spent approximately $47 million locally and directly supported 778 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the county.
  • The Ithaca campus purchased $533 million in goods and services; one-quarter of that ($128 million) was spent in Tompkins County; $55 million was spent in surrounding counties. Weill Cornell spent $202 million in New York City.
  • Cornell spent $291 million with primary construction contractors: $179 million for the Ithaca campus and $112 million on New York City projects. The projects generated 726 FTE jobs in Tompkins County; 888 jobs in New York City and 77 jobs elsewhere in the state.

"The study is intended to fulfill President Skorton's prior commitment to regularly report back to the citizens of New York state on how the university is using the resources it is provided to advance the public good," said Joanne DeStefano, Cornell vice president for finance and CFO.