When Adrian Autry ’94 led the Syracuse University men’s basketball team into action against the University of New Hampshire to open the 2023-24 season, there were many familiar faces in the stands inside the JMA Wireless Dome cheering on the…
‘Syracuse University Impact: Central to Central New York’ Report Released, Details University’s $1.1 Billion Impact on Local Economy, Communities
Syracuse University is central to Central New York. That is the overwhelming takeaway from two complementary studies conducted by third-party experts. The summary findings—shared in the newly released report “Syracuse University Impact: Central to Central New York”—detail the University’s approximately $1.1 billion annual economic contribution to the region, as well as the very substantial investment that Syracuse University makes in the community.
“Syracuse University is proud to be a strong partner in our community’s continued growth and prosperity,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “As I said early in my tenure, the most important contribution Syracuse University can make to this city and to this region is to be a great, thriving and engaged international research university.”
Beyond the economic impact and job creation fueled by the University’s general operations, Syracuse University students, staff and faculty invest countless hours of intellectual capital and engagement to support community organizations, touch lives and expand opportunities for the residents of Central New York.
“Strong community partnerships are a longstanding practice at Syracuse University,” says J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation. “These studies were motivated by a recognition that if we can better understand and specify the economic, social and cultural connections that exist between the University and the region, we are better positioned to align our engagement efforts with the aspirations of the region and the needs of the community.”
The two studies considered the University’s impact on the region and the community through distinctly different lenses. The first, “Analysis of the Economic Impact and Return on Investment of Education,” was prepared by EMSI, a firm that has worked extensively with educational and nonprofit institutions around the world, modeling and quantifying the impact that those institutions have on local and regional economies. The second, “Syracuse University Community Investment: Current State Report,” was prepared by enlight, an organization that helps colleges, universities and foundations design and assess strategies supporting impactful community engagement and investment.
Key findings of the two reports include:
- Because Syracuse University is the largest private employer in the region, 85 percent of its more than 6,000 employees live in Central New York. Consequently, much of the University’s annual payroll expense of $513 million stays in the region, spent on lodging, dining, retail, entertainment and the other expenses of daily living.
- Eighty-four percent of Syracuse University students originate from outside Central New York, but while enrolled at the University, students annually spend $148.9 million in the region on lodging, dining, retail, entertainment and the other expenses of daily living.
- Spending by Syracuse University students generates $104 million in added income to the region, equivalent to 1,886 jobs across Central New York—1,735 in Onondaga County.
- Each year, the University’s procurement activity—including purchasing products, facilities, office supplies and professional services—generates more than $280 million in revenue for small and large businesses across the region.
- Syracuse University’s robust research and discovery mission generates nearly $65 million in additional income to the region each year, the equivalent of 851 jobs.
- Each year, thousands of visitors from outside the region travel to Onondaga County to attend conferences, sporting events and special occasions on the campus of Syracuse University. Travel and tourism associated with Syracuse University annually generate more than $140.2 million in added income to Onondaga County, the equivalent of 3,249 jobs.
- The University annually provides more than $20 million, including $5 million to Say Yes Syracuse, in regional access scholarships to families across Central New York. This financial support creates the opportunity for the region’s talented but often underserved students to access an extraordinary educational opportunity, thereby increasing degree attainment in the region.
- The University invests directly in public sector services, including $1.2 million in annual funding for Centro to provide public transportation throughout the Connective Corridor.
- Each year, Syracuse University provides financial support to more than 100 community organizations, including more than $3.5 million annually to fund such University-community collaborations as the Gebbie Clinic, the South Side Initiative, the Bernice M. Wright Child Lab School and the Urban Video Project. Additionally, the University provides more than $5 million annually to fund various art, music and theater initiatives across the region, such as the Community Folk Art Gallery, Syracuse Stage and the Light Work Lab.
Partnered with many community organizations, the University also provides direct financial support, intellectual capital and thousands of hours of engagement of students, faculty and staff.
“We know the investment made by our students, faculty and staff enriches the student experience, advances our academic mission and brings a profound benefit to our community,” says Vice President for Community Engagement Bea González. “The University is dedicated to this type of engagement, even though it’s hard to quantify in dollars.”
González notes that Syracuse University’s investment of $5 million in direct funding to support multiple nonprofit organizations in the community is unusual among peer institutions. “The University has historically been a generous partner in enhancing the arts, culture, health and well-being of our community. We believe it is important to measure outcomes and create investment strategies that are sustainable and aligned with our institutional priorities,” she says.