Valley News -

UC Riverside bolstering employment, economic growth in region, state


Last updated 12/12/2017 at Noon

RIVERSIDE -- UC Riverside contributes $1.35 billion in economic activity annually throughout the Inland Empire, directly or indirectly supporting more than 15,000 jobs, making it a "critical economic asset," according to a report that campus officials released to the public yesterday.

"Along with our education and research missions, one of UCR's fundamental responsibilities is to serve as an engine for economic opportunity in the region and the state," UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said. "This report not only quantifies the progress we've made, but also sets a benchmark for what I predict is even greater impact in the future. UCR is fulfilling the great promise of a modern research university."

The campus hired Los Angeles-based HR&A Advisors to complete a detailed "economic impact" study, profiling the university's contributions to the region, state and country on several fronts.

"UC Riverside is a critical economic asset and an important driver of growth in the Inland Empire and the state," according to an introduction to the report. "UC Riverside plays a rapidly expanding role educating the region's workforce."

The analysts noted the 1,200-acre campus has undergone marked changes since its founding in 1907 as a citrus research laboratory. In the fall term of the 2016-17 academic year, a record 22,921 students were enrolled at UCR, a milestone that underscored the campus' popularity, according to the report.

UCR maintains three colleges -- the Bourns College of Engineering, the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, and the College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences -- boasting 23 research centers, whose students and staff engage in joint ventures with researchers from universities throughout the United States, according to the study. Federal research funding for UCR-led projects increased 43 percent between 2012 and 2015 -- a period when federal funding in support of most universities' projects was declining, the analysts said.

They cited the School of Medicine, which opened its doors in the fall of 2013, as one of the campus' most promising components, producing physicians who will help rectify the woeful doctor shortage that has plagued the region for several decades. The Inland Empire has a deficit of 3,000 physicians, measured against the population and standard physician-to-patients ratios elsewhere, according to the report.

Another "powerhouse" component complementing the university's operations: the College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research & Technology, or CE-CERT. According to the report, the center, which focuses on renewable energy uses and enhancements to pollution controls, was one of the reasons why the California Air Resources Board selected Riverside as the location for its new Southern California research hub, slated to come online in a year.

According to HR&A data, 15,536 Inland Empire jobs depend on UCR. While the campus' regional economic output is $1.35 billion, the statewide value of operations is $1.92 billion, and the nationwide value is estimated to be $2.7 billion.

The analysts factored in payrolls, spending by university employees, retirees, students and visitors, as well as investments tied to campus operations, to calculate values.


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