MERCED – The University of California, Merced has contributed
nearly $456 million in direct economic value to the San Joaquin
Valley since the beginning of operations in Merced in July 2000,
the university said today (Oct. 22).
Through August 2009, UC Merced has paid $269 million in local
wages, awarded $90 million in construction contracts to local firms
and purchased $97 million in goods and services from local suppliers.
Statewide, the university’s economic contribution over the
nine-year period is nearing the $1 billion mark. In addition to the
$456 million spent in San Joaquin Valley, the total includes $109
million in goods and services purchased from firms outside the
Valley, and $384 million in construction contracts awarded to firms
outside the Valley.
“UC Merced has quickly become a vital catalyst for long-term
economic growth and development throughout the San Joaquin Valley,”
said UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang. “This has been one of our
most important objectives since the campus was first envisioned 20
years ago. In a region with higher poverty and unemployment rates
than any other major region in the state, we are extremely pleased
to be creating good jobs, making major investments and increasing
tax revenues at a rapid pace.”
Kang said the university’s economic contribution will continue
to grow in the coming years as the campus expands to accommodate
rising student enrollment. With 3,400 students enrolled this fall,
up 26 percent from the fall of 2008, UC Merced is on pace to reach
the 5,000 mark by 2013. Total student enrollment is expected to
reach approximately 25,000 students at full build out within 30 years.
UC Merced currently has approximately 976 employees (excluding
student employees) and a monthly payroll, including gross wages and
benefits, of approximately $6.7 million. With the vast majority of
its employees residing within the Valley and purchasing goods and
services locally, the economic impact is multiplied several times
over by the ripple effect.
“The timing of these contributions is very fortunate in light of
the state’s ongoing financial difficulties and the national housing
crisis,” said Mary Miller, vice chancellor for administration.
“Recent statistics show rising indebtedness and home foreclosure
rates for many residents of the Valley, which has been hit hard by
these larger economic issues. We hope our growing contribution can
help stem the tide and enable the region to rebound quickly as the
economic picture begins to improve.”
Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that
per capita income for the Valley in 2007 ranked among the lowest in
the nation, with average income about one-third less than the
national average. In Merced County, per capita income of $23,864
was more than 38% below the national average of $38,632.
At the same time, the Valley’s population continues to grow
rapidly, adding more than half a million people from the 2000
Census through July 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The region’s economy will have to grow and diversify
significantly to absorb the added population and increase the
region’s overall standard of living,” said Miller. “UC Merced will
help by serving as a powerful engine of economic growth and
spawning new industries and businesses that lift the region to
greater prosperity. UC Merced graduates will play a major role in
that transformation as their numbers increase and their
contributions to Valley society and the economy multiply.”