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The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Report explores economic impact

Drexel University President John A. Fry released the school’s 2012 economic impact report Nov. 12, detailing how the University has contributed to the growth and prosperity of the City of Philadelphia.

The document, titled “Growth and Solutions: Drexel’s Economic Impact, a 2012 Report,” is based on the findings of Econsult Corp., a Philadelphia-based economic consulting and litigation support company.

“The size and scope of the economic impact of a major university like Drexel is more difficult to describe. But it’s critical that we make our case so that our neighbors have a clear picture of how Drexel creates jobs and grows Pennsylvania’s tax base,” Fry wrote in the report.

Because of Drexel, there is $2.4 billion flowing each year into Pennsylvania’s economy. This includes the 9,500 people Drexel directly employs.

Tax revenues going back to the City of Philadelphia total $30 million, and $27 million of that is attributed to direct spending. Another $38 million is taxed to the state. The University also offers 27,400 jobs for Pennsylvanians.

“Our strategic vision for Drexel explicitly includes ramping up our economic development efforts to continue growing our impact,” Fry wrote.

Construction at Drexel is bridging the gap between the University of Pennsylvania and Center City, extending the core of the city over the Schuylkill River and up to 40th Street. The Campus Master Plan will play a big role in securing this gap. Drexel, along with other local academic institutions —Penn, the University of the Sciences, and the Science Center — have created a world-renowned powerhouse in University City.

“Drexel’s physical investment and capital improvement is a tremendous plus for the City of Philadelphia,” Stephen Mullin, a principal from Econsult and a Drexel economics professor, said.

The University’s continual capital investment in its campus has created jobs and growth in the Philadelphia area. Thirty-four percent of Drexel’s total capital investment will impact the construction sector. The Campus Master Plan will put $619 million into the region’s economy and employ over 5,000 persons over the next five years while generating $14 million in taxes.

The construction of the new LeBow College of Business building alone has created almost 2,000 jobs and put $222 million into the local economy.

The report states that the average Drexel student spends around $7,100 each year in the Philadelphia area. Over 500,000 visitors of students, prospective students and Drexel College of Medicine patients spend $9.5 million altogether.

“Drexel has a lot of students coming from out of the state and country. That is an absolute plus for the Philadelphia area by coming here and spending money and getting a flavor for the City of Philadelphia, which is what every city wants,” Mullin said.

Over 50,000 people attend Drexel events annually, including athletic, business, professional, cultural and entertainment events, which brings in $1.6 million. Basketball games are one of Drexel’s biggest athletic attractions for visitors. Attendees at Drexel’s events spent $1.6 million last year, just under the $2.2 million prospective students spent.

“You take 18-year-olds out of high school and give them more skills and higher aptitude to make them productive members of society four years later. … Output is the most important for a university. Output includes more talented graduates and research and faculty working toward the economy,” Mullin said.

Almost 60,000 alumni live and work in Pennsylvania, generating around $5 million in taxes.

Aside from Drexel’s financial benefit to the city, University members are consistently working to improve the surrounding communities in other ways, by having civically involved students and employees. They are able to support residents with the College of Medicine’s Chinatown Clinic and 11th Street Family Health Services and are able to invest in surrounding schools with the help of a $1 million collaboration with PECO Energy.

“I think there are many players on the Drexel team that have really placed community engagement as a priority on their agendas. And this is great. I am very much looking forward to seeing how Drexel supports our immediate community and hope that it is a positive change both for the members of the Drexel community but also for the current residents and community members of Mantua, Powelton Village and West Powelton,” Melanie Jeske, an Econsult research assistant and pre-junior economics and environmental studies major at Drexel, said.

“When you add in the long-term economic benefits of our signature co-op program, in which our students alternate classroom study and full-time professional employment in their field; the research we do at Drexel, which focuses on solutions that are ready to transform the marketplace; and the service-based partnerships we form with the neighborhoods and communities around us, it’s clear that Drexel is a force for prosperity for Pennsylvania families and businesses,” Fry wrote.

The report was created with two audiences in mind: the general public and government officials. This report shows the public how Drexel impacts the local economy. Government officials are able to review the report and see if subsidies and tax exemptions awarded to Drexel are paying off.

Drexel alumni Ian Bowen and Grant Holland worked on the report with Mullin and Jeske.

All dollar amounts are in 2012 dollars and may not be exact due to being summed and rounded. The full report and Econsult’s study with notes can be viewed at drexel.edu/president.