Jobs, spending help power regional
U.Va. exerts stabilizing effect
by Andrew Shurtleff
four know firsthand how vital the University is to Central
Virginias economy. They are (l-r): George Kasidiaris
of the White Spot, a Corner area restaurant; Robert De Mauri,
executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Regional Economic
Development Partnership; John Knapp, director of business
and economic research for U.Va.s Weldon Cooper Center
for Public Service; and Klara Ferro, manager of Café
Europa, also on the Corner.
By Charlotte Crystal
U.Va., we dont have a business, says Klara Ferro,
manager of Café Europa.
cash register at the popular Greek restaurant on University Avenue
may be more tuned to the rhythms of the University than those
of other businesses in Central Virginia, yet it is not alone in
benefiting from the presence of the University.
is an engine that helps power the economy of Central Virginia.
a Southern school that featured Thomas Jeffersons historical
architecture, U.Va. more recently has gained a national reputation
as a mid-Atlantic powerhouse generating research to reckon with
as much in the sciences as in the humanities.
among the top 25 universities in the country by U.S. News &
World Report, the Universitys reputation for excellence
has allowed it to attract talented
researchers. They in turn have brought in millions of dollars
in outside funding as they seek cures for cancer, work to protect
the nations infrastructure against terrorist attack, and
create new materials for use in medicine and industry.
fiscal year 2002, U.Va. faculty members obtained more than $257
million in research support, an increase of 82 percent over 1996,
boosting the University to 49th place nationwide in attracting
federal research dollars.
is by far the areas largest employer nearly one-fifth
of the non-farm workers in the Charlottesville metro area work
for the University, either its academic or medical center divisions,
according to John Knapp, director of business and economic research
for the Universitys Weldon
Cooper Center for Public Service.
2001, U.Va. had more than 18,720 employees, including 5,315 at
the Medical Center. The next-largest employers in the area are
Albemarle County, the city of Charlottesville, State Farm Insurance
Companies and Martha Jefferson Hospital.
The University exerts a stimulating and stabilizing effect
on the employment picture in the regional economy, Knapp
in large part to the Universitys presence, the unemployment
rate in the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which
includes the city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle,
Fluvanna and Greene, is consistently lower than the statewide
rate. The unemployment rate in July was 3.2 percent in the Charlottesville
metro area, compared with 4.1 percent for Virginia, according
to the Virginia Employment Commission.
its payroll expenditures, the University also pumps money directly
into the local economy. In 1989-90, U.Va. spent $118.4 million
for goods and services, including $60.8 million for construction
projects, in the Charlottesville metro area, according to Knapp,
who conducted an economic study of the Universitys impact
on the surrounding community in 1990 and recently updated some
of his figures. Today, Knapp estimates that the Universitys
current direct spending is about $167 million in the Charlottesville
addition to direct spending by the University, U.Va. employees
recycle their paychecks throughout the regional economy. University
employees, who earned $277.3 million in wages and salaries in
the 1989-90 fiscal year, spent about $121.7 million of their earnings
locally that year. Based on his earlier study, Knapp believes
that about 44 percent of the dollars earned by University employees
are spent locally. So, in 2001, when the payroll was $721.8 million,
U.Va. employees injected an estimated $318 million into the local
their part, students there are nearly 19,200 graduate and
undergraduate students enrolled at the University spend
a substantial amount with non-University vendors. Based on his
earlier study, Knapp estimates students now spend about $85 million
annually, including $30 million for housing, $25 million for groceries
and restaurant meals, and another $30 million for a variety of
goods and services, ranging from furniture to entertainment.
some cases, the economic impact of the University community is
clear. Retail shops and restaurants on the Corner, such as Café
Europa, thrive during the academic year and see business slow
dramatically in the summertime or during winter break when many
students are away and faculty are on leave.
other cases, the connection with U.Va. is more subtle. Several
of Charlottesvilles state and federal government employers
such as the U.S. Armys Judge Advocate General School,
the Federal Executive Institute and the Virginia Transportation
Research Council have limited business connections with
U.Va., but it was the Universitys presence that initially
drew them to Charlottesville.
University raises the visibility of the community nationally,
said Robert De Mauri, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson
Regional Economic Development Partnership. Charlottesville
plays a lot larger role than it normally would given the size
of our area.
events such as Finals, which attracts more than 20,000
people for a weekend every May; Family Weekend in October; and
football games throughout the fall bring thousands of visitors
to Charlottesville each year.
1989-90, the Universitys presence brought an estimated 477,350
visitors, who filled hotel rooms, ate in restaurants, shopped
in local stores and spent an estimated $43.7 million in the area,
then, the Universitys growth in several areas population,
reputation, special events and sports facilities has increased
the attractiveness of Charlottesville as a tourist destination.
Knapp believes that a conservative estimate of spending by U.Va.-affiliated
visitors could easily reach $58 million a year.
Shore, director of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and
Visitors Bureau, said U.Va. special events help fill the Charlottesville
regions 3,200 hotel rooms. The weekend of Finals is particularly
spend a lot of time that weekend helping interstate travelers
find rooms, Shore said.
University has entered a period of construction and construction
planning that rivals any in its history. From 2003 through 2006,
when the $129.8 million John Paul Jones Arena is expected to be
completed, U.Va. plans to spend $555.6 million on construction
half of the Universitys spending on construction contracts
goes for labor, according to Richard Dickman, contract administration
manager for facilities
management. And construction workers, regardless of their
permanent residence, spend about 60 percent of their paychecks
locally, plus paying state income and sales taxes, he said.
materials are purchased locally whenever available, added Charles
Sack Johannesmeyer, U.Va. director of facilities planning
a community briefing in June, Leonard Sandridge, U.Va. executive
vice president and chief operating officer, estimated that the
University construction expenditures will mean an economic benefit
to the community of about $1.1 billion over the next three years,
and lead to the creation of 1,450 jobs, directly and indirectly.
many years, the U.Va. Medical
Center has developed a national reputation, according to Solucient
Inc., a leading, independent provider of health-care data and
analysis, which has ranked the U.Va. Medical Center among the
nations top 100 hospitals.
quality of health care in Charlottesville far exceeds what one
would expect to find in a small community, De Mauri said.
That attracts retirees to the area because they know they
can get the best care without having to live in a big metro area.
Medical Center serves patients around the state and beyond, providing
quality health care and acting as a safety-net hospital, said
Larry Fitzgerald, chief financial officer for the U.Va. Health
System. In 2001, the Medical Center provided $66 million in care
for uninsured Virginians from around the state, serving more than
27,000 people who could not pay for their care.
mission is to treat all patients, regardless of their ability
to pay for medically necessary care, Fitzgerald said.
economic benefit difficult to quantify is the presence of a highly
educated workforce in Charlottesville. Many local businesses and
government agencies unaffiliated with the University profit from
the presence of students, faculty and their highly educated spouses.
University also reaches out to adult students interested in attending
classes part time. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies
offers a broad array of programs around Virginia, from one-day
seminars to certificate programs that enable working professionals
to boost their skills and job prospects.
U.Va. initiatives include masters degree programs in engineering
and management of information technology, which serve students
employed full time.
U.Va. also collaborates with Piedmont Virginia Community College
and other state community colleges, admitting qualified transfer
students into the undergraduate program and hiring lab technicians
trained in specialized programs.
we promote the region, the University is one of the first things
we talk about, De Mauri said. Theres the availability
of continuing education. Faculty and students provide an educated
workforce. Theres research going on. The schools of business,
medicine and engineering are seen as assets, especially by smaller