By Grant Welker
LOWELL -- UMass Lowell contributes $854 million a year into the regional economy, nearly double the number of only five years ago, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The university's impact includes supporting more than 7,000 jobs -- nearly 2,000 directly, and the remainder in positions that benefit from the school, including construction, transportation, retail and professional services, according to the report, which was presented to the City Council's education partnerships subcommittee.
Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney credited the city, saying the university couldn't have accomplished its progress without the city's own progress and cooperation.
The report, developed by the UMass Donahue Institute, highlighted other rising expenditures and benefits.
Research spending has grown from $36 million in 2007 to $65 million now, and when combined with industry partners such as Raytheon and indirect spending, rises to more than $100 million. The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, known as M2D2, is said to contribute more than $75 million.
The Tsongas Center, which hosts UMass Lowell hockey, concerts and other events, generates $10.5 million, the report said. Each hockey game, with an average attendance over 5,000, generates about $196,000. The UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, which is operated mostly as a dorm during the school year but is open to the public year-round, contributed $4.7 million.
The report comes out amid some concerns from residents about the university's physical growth, with all university-owned land exempt from paying property taxes. The topic of whether the city should push for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement regularly comes and goes.
Several councilors raised the issue Tuesday while lauding the university for its improvements and contributing to what many officials say is shaping up to be more of a college city. Councilor Corey Belanger called UMass Lowell the city's best asset.
"You're on a roll," Councilor Rita Mercier said. "You're doing a great job that we're really, really proud of."
When UMass Lowell last tallied its economic impact, in 2010, it came up with $490 million. The latest impact, following a construction boom and sharp rise in enrollment, is 74 percent higher.
Moloney spoke about other benefits the city has given, such as the year-old University Crossing building at Merrimack and Pawtucket streets, which has stores and cafes open to the public. "Now we feel the vibrancy of that section of the city," she said.
Research and innovation has the potential to keep building, especially if start-up companies choose to stay in the city, Moloney added, citing the industry's effect on Cambridge. It is also important work, she said. "We're hoping to solve real-world problems with that research."
UMass Lowell has also pledged to give $2 million toward renovation or replacement of several privately owned bridges around its campuses for which the city also won a $13.4 million federal grant last month. It also recently combined with the city and the agency the Lowell Plan on a marketing campaign for Lowell.
UML'S ECONOMIC IMPACT
- 1,976 in direct employment
- 5,121 in external jobs supported by the university
- 7,097 total
- $391,073,082 in direct spending
- $166,944,923 in "indirect effect"
- $296,029,436 in "induced effect"
- $854,047,441 total
Research spending, commercial ventures and intellectual property:
- *$104,169,561 in total economic output, 529 in total employment
Mass. Medical Device and Development Center:
- $75,464,982 in economic output, 370 in employment
UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center:
- $4,717,986 in economic output, 85 in employment
- $10,471,157 in total economic impact, 308 in total employment
Source: UMass Donahue Institute