Economic report provides first direct evidence that Cornell is a state powerhouse, generating $3.3 billion in 2005

Cornell powered an estimated $3.3 billion in economic activity and directly and indirectly generated over 36,000 jobs in New York state in 2005, according to a university economic impact statement released Feb. 8. Cornell also led the state with its $561 million in research spending while ranking 11th nationwide in research spending in 2005.

Commissioned by former Cornell President Hunter Rawlings and endorsed by President David Skorton, the report, "The Economic Impact on New York State," shows how Cornell serves as a powerful economic force by generating economic activity through its purchase of goods and services, salaries, capital construction and more, particularly in central New York and New York City. The report says that Cornell generated close to $1.8 billion in central New York and up to $1.06 billion in New York City in 2005.

"This report constitutes a new and important data point in our effort to understand the additional effects of our institution's far-reaching educational and research activities on the life of our region and the well-being of our communities," said Skorton. "It helps underscore the fact that Cornell's contributions to the state's economy are the product of decades of investment in the institution -- both public and private, both intellectual and financial."

Commenting on the 114-page report, Cornell Provost Biddy Martin said, "While Cornell's economic data illustrate the impact the university has on New York state's economy, this report also shows that the university's greatest contributions are directly related to the quality and dedication of its faculty, staff and students, whose many accomplishments and contributions we have attempted to highlight."

The study provides evidence of how Cornell's teaching, land-grant mission and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) efforts raise the quality of life for citizens in the state through business development, services to residents in need and applied research that, as just one example, supports agricultural communities upstate. For instance, CCE served an estimated 535,000 families, professionals, schoolchildren, small businesses, farmers and community agencies across the state in 2005.

While the report is comprehensive, university officials regard it as one document among many that will help provide Skorton and other university leaders with hard numbers about Cornell's diverse impacts on the state's economy as they look toward shaping the university's future and how it can best interact with New York's citizens.

"If you look at this economic impact statement as compared to other universities nationally, the reality is that Cornell in all probability touches the state and its citizens more comprehensively than any other single university through its research, teaching and land-grant mission," said Stephen Golding, Cornell's executive vice president for finance and administration. "The breadth of ways that Cornell impacts the state is truly amazing and should make all Cornellians very proud."

Prior to the report, evidence of the university's influence in the state tended to be anecdotal or ad hoc, said Golding.

"The report provides a comprehensive inventory to be used by various members of the university community with their key constituency groups when they talk about one of New York state's leading higher education institutions and how the university positively impacts the community at large," Golding said. Additional points in the report include:

The report was managed through Golding's office, with Vice President of Financial Affairs and University Controller Joanne DeStefano acting as project manager. The university hired the economic-development consulting firm Appleseed Inc. in New York City to organize the study using data from across the university. A universitywide committee of faculty and administrators helped provide data and quality control for the report.

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