College Boosts New York’s Economy by $312 Million

Manhattan College added $312 million to the New York State economy in 2015, a study by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in the State of New York found.

In 2016, the commission conducted a study of economic impact from higher education institutions in the State of New York. According to the study, private colleges and universities across the state added about $79.6 billion to the economy in 2015, with roughly $50 billion coming from the five boroughs of New York City alone.

According to Kent Gardner, the Chief Economist at CICU, the findings are important in assessing the value of institutions in their communities.

“I think academic institutions have been demonstrating a dual role in the community,” Gardner said in a phone interview. “They make significant cultural contributions to the community […] They’re employers. They buy goods and services.”

According to CICU, the college accounted for $117 million in wages in 2015, adding 2,160 jobs to the economy, both through direct employment with the institution and indirectly by spending at local vendors and attracting visitors to the Riverdale-Kingsbridge area.

“Much of that money ends up being spent some place,” Gardner said about employees’ wages. “They’ll take some money and go out to dinner with the family, they’ll go to the movies, they’ll buy clothing.”

The CICU also took into account college expenditures on construction, estimating construction by the college to be $14.2 million. According to Gardner, the commission uses figures over multiple years to estimate average annual construction spending. Actual construction spending by Manhattan College did decline sharply in 2015 after the completion of the $45 million Raymond W. Kelly ’63 Student Commons in fall of 2014.

The study also found that the college adds an estimated $8.5 million to state and local tax revenue, including $6.7 million alone in personal taxes paid to New York State.

According to Gardner, the CICU generates estimates for its member colleges based off data provided by the institutions themselves and from IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Data System, a survey system funded by the federal government.

But the CICU study represents more of a ballpark estimate than a precise accounting.

“This is a ten thousand foot view,” Gardner said. “Granular data isn’t the kind of thing we can get in this study because of cost implication.”

Regardless of precision, the college sees value in the results of the study.

“It’s an independent tool that measured this. You know, this isn’t a report that the college produced […] It’s a part of a body at large that we’re a part of,” said Peter McHugh, Director of Communications at Manhattan College.

“It also shows that we’re a part of the community as well,” McHugh said. “That’s just something that I think is important to us, you know, showing that we’re a vital part of the economy of the Bronx.”

For small businesses in Riverdale and Kingsbridge, Manhattan College has become a key source of revenue.

Business from Manhattan College students, faculty and visitors accounts for nearly half of the traffic at Gourmet Bagel & Market, according to manager Zak Kaid. The bagel and sandwich shop, located at 5993 Broadway, between Manhattan College Parkway and West 242nd Street, opened last fall and is the latest addition to the strip of shops and eateries along Broadway by the 242nd Street Subway Station.

“The school does play a pretty big role, I gotta be honest. Because that’s most of our night business. I get [Manhattan students] all night really, until like 4 a.m.,” Kaid said.

Not only does the college add to Gourmet’s bottom-line, but the foot traffic generated by its proximity to mass transit is a big contributor to Gourmet’s revenue.

“Think about the location. We’re right next to the exit to the subway. All the buses stop right here. It’s like an intersection,” Kaid said.

For Rob Porco, an owner of Broadway Joe’s Pizza, a 48-year-old Italian-American staple just a few doors down from Gourmet, proximity to Manhattan College also means good business.

“It’s a good chunk,” Porco said of student business in his restaurant.

“We attract visitors here who patronize different restaurants, shops, whatever. It’s also part of our mission that goes along with service to the community and being good neighbors,” McHugh said.

CICU did not publicly disclose the results of its studies of its member institutions. The details of the commission’s study of Manhattan College were released to the Quadrangle by McHugh.