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UC Merced says it has contributed $456M to Valley's economy since 2000

UC Merced said it has contributed nearly $456 million in direct economic value to the San Joaquin Valley since starting operations in July 2000.

Through August 2009, UC Merced has paid $269 million in local wages, awarded $90 million in construction contracts to local firms and bought $97 million in goods and services from local suppliers, a news release said.

Statewide, the university said its 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 bought from firms outside the Valley, and $384 million in construction contracts awarded to firms outside the Valley, the statement added.

Chancellor Steve Kang said the university’s economic contribution would continue to grow 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 about 25,000 students at full build out within 30 years.

UC Merced currently has 976 employees (excluding student employees) and a monthly payroll, including gross wages and benefits, of some $6.7 million. With most of its employees living within the Valley and buying goods and services locally, the economic impact is multiplied several times, the statement continued.

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 percent below the national average of $38,632, the news release said..

At the same time, the Valley’s population continues to grow, adding more than half a million people from the 2000 Census through July 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century.