June 15, 2011

The Barnes and Noble at Bucknell University bookstore opened in downtown Lewisburg last summer.

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By Communications Staff

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell University contributed more than a quarter-billion dollars to the economy of the Central Susquehanna Valley region and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania this past year, according to the University's 2009-10 Economic Impact Report, which was released today.

The study shows that Bucknell contributed $263 million in economic impact to the state in the 2009-10 academic year. Of that amount, $207 million went into the six-county area of Union, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder. || See full report online

Bucknell is among the region's largest employers with 1,160 full-time faculty and staff. During the reporting period for the study, the University had a payroll of more than $77 million and paid an additional $28.9 million in benefits, including medical and retirement benefits, and $2.6 million in student wages, according to the report.

"Our primary mission is to provide an excellent learning experience for our students," Bucknell President John Bravman said. "An exceptional byproduct of this work is the enormous economic impact that Bucknell has on both the region and state."

The University and its operations contributed to this economic impact in a number of ways:

  • Bucknell spent an average of more than $11 million on construction projects in each of the last four years.
  • The University paid more than $50 million for operating expenses, including utilities and food.
  • 160,000 visitors came to Bucknell during the year, with an economic impact of more than $9.7 million for the state and nearly $15 million for the six-county region.
  • Students spent more than $14 million on non-University purchases.

The study, conducted by Matthew Rousu, an associate professor of economics at Susquehanna University and expert in economic development research, used conservative estimates of Bucknell's spending in making its estimates. Standard multipliers from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis were used to determine the resulting economic impact.

The study examined the impact of eight spending components: salaries and wages, benefits, taxes, construction spending, food services spending, miscellaneous spending, student spending and visitor spending.

Community impact
The report focuses on Bucknell's economic impact and does not quantify all the ways in which the University makes a positive state and regional impact.

"There are many ways in which the University helps to improve quality of life that aren't measured in a report like this," said David Myers, executive director of government and foundation relations.

For example, Bucknell's Small Business Development Center helped local businesses to increase sales by $7 million. In addition, Bucknell worked with a private developer to relocate its campus bookstore to a downtown Lewisburg location to serve as an anchor for other businesses in the area.

"The downtown project, which is part of a $26 million investment in downtown Lewisburg, has provided increased employment, local tax revenues and foot traffic in the community," Myers said.

Culture, service
Non-economic university impacts cited in the report - but not factored into the economic impact figures - included thousands of hours of volunteer service and fine arts and sporting events that are open to the public.

The University estimated that 75 percent of its 3,500 undergraduate students are involved in some form of community service during the academic year and that 60 percent are involved with the community on a sustained, continuing basis. In recent years, Bucknell students have contributed more than 50,000 hours of service annually to local agencies.

Bucknell students are also heavily involved in service-learning programs, in which a community service component is combined with a class. More than 300 students are involved in field placements assisting local teachers, providing remedial education and tutoring in local school classrooms.

The economic impact analysis also noted that Bucknell makes payments to Lewisburg and East Buffalo Township in lieu of tax contributions. In addition to these payments, Bucknell paid payroll and property taxes of $1.6 million to local governments during academic year 2009-10.

Contact: Division of Communications