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Upstate Medical University generates $2.5 billion impact on economy, study finds

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE — A new report finds that Upstate Medical University contributed $2.5 billion to the state and local economy and supported — both directly and indirectly — more than 18,300 jobs across New York in fiscal year 2018. 

Tripp Umbach, a consultancy based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, conducted the study, Upstate Medical announced on Jan. 14.

The economic-impact figure — which has grown 50 percent in a decade — includes capital improvements, Upstate expenditures, and salaries to employees who spend their income on housing and services in Central New York. Additional dollars are generated by students, patients and visitors to Upstate, the report found. 

“Our mission is to serve and improve the health of this community. But as this report points out, we are also a vital player in this community’s economy — employing more people than anyone else and generating billions of dollars for the state and local economy each year,” Dr. Mantosh Dewan, interim president of Upstate Medical University, said in a statement. “Our talented, valuable employees are investing their salaries into the Central New York economy, which plays a critical role in the vitality of the region and New York state.”

In a Jan. 14 phone interview with CNYBJ, Dewan also noted Upstate Medical University’s acquisition of Community General Hospital in 2011 as a factor in its growing economic impact.

“I have to believe that that is one major factor in the 50-percent growth because that’s dramatic,” says Dewan.

He hadn’t seen the initial report that was conducted back in 2008 so a lot of the statistical findings were new to him, Dewan notes.

Some report findings

The study looked at the economic, employment, government revenue, and community impacts of Upstate.

Since 2008, Upstate’s overall economic impact increased by half, from $1.67 billion annually to $2.5 billion; employment rose 30 percent from 14,000 to 18,321; and generated government revenue grew 86 percent from $86 million to $160.4 million. 

In addition, student enrollment at Upstate Medical University has grown 30 percent since 2006; Upstate directly employs 10,959 people; it supports an additional 7,362 employees through local business and employee spending; and Upstate sustains and supports 14,920 jobs in Onondaga County. 

The report also found that Upstate is a considerable driver of tax revenues for the state and local governments. Tax revenues attributable to Upstate in the form of income taxes, sales taxes, real estate taxes paid was estimated to be $160 million in 2018. 

“For the first time, I saw a very clear statement of overall impact, which is the $2.5 billion, but also, for the first time, I saw the contribution to the state and the local governments in terms of [tax revenues],” he says. 

While acknowledging that Upstate Medical is a nonprofit that is exempt from taxes, Dewan says, “But, in fact, $160 million is significant money.” 

The report also found that Upstate’s annual payroll is $625 million and that one dollar of state support to Upstate generates another $58 in the state economy. 

More than 3,100 Upstate alumni practicing in New York generate $7.1 billion in economic activity, support 35,363 jobs and generate $377 million in state and local taxes. 

Alumni physicians practicing nationwide generate $993.1 million in taxes annually. 

Upstate’s research efforts also translate to local economic investment, the report found. 

The medical school is entering its third year of near double-digit growth in annual research expenditures. Upstate’s clinical departments host more than 450 active clinical trials per year. The SUNY research expenditures of $35 million “ripple across the state economy” and generated an additional $20.7 million in indirect and induced activity. 

“It supports about 477 jobs,” Dewan notes.

The growing number of Upstate graduates has created a vast network of nearly 7,900 alumni nationwide. Those licensed physicians generate more than $24.8 billion in economic activity and support or employ nearly 132,354 employees throughout the U.S. 

Many Upstate programs and special services are supported by the Upstate Foundation, which manages 1,000 funds and endowments totaling close to $200 million in total assets. 

The report also noted how Upstate employees give back to their communities through volunteer time and money to local causes. In fiscal year 2018, the value of that time and money contributes an additional $25 million in economic impact to the community. 

“The $25 million number was completely new to me as well … which encompasses about $10 million that Upstate folks give in terms of cash to the community and then another $15 million in terms of the many thousands of hours that are donated in evenings and weekends in all kinds of community [events] that are very valuable,” says Dewan.         

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