Measuring GWs Economic Impact on the Metro Area
When it Comes to Spending in the Community, George Washington
Tosses More than Silver Dollars
The Universitys economic impact continues to positively influence
the DC metropolitan area in significant ways as GW employs thousands of
people, contributes millions in taxes, pays for services around the region
and attracts students who remain in the area, according to the most recent
numbers from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer.
In calendar year 2002, GW employed nearly 13,500 people either full or
part time with salaries, wages and benefits that totaled $353 million,
of which $15 million was withheld in income tax and sent to state and
local government coffers. The number of employees continues to place the
University as the No. 1 employer in the District of Columbia after the
Beyond payroll taxes, the University paid $45 million in other taxes for
fiscal year 200203. This amount included real estate taxes on properties
held for investment purposes, sales taxes from the bookstore, food services
and athletic events, as well as unemployment and FICA taxes, among other
sources. In the same fiscal year, GW contributed $105 million to the local
economy through the purchase of goods and services from area businesses.
These numbers reflect the direct economic benefits the institution,
by its presence in Foggy Bottom, creates for the Districts economy,
said Richard Sawaya, vice president for government, international and
corporate affairs. But these statistics do not reflect the indirect
economic benefits. For example, Sawaya said small businesses are
dependent upon a customer base of thousands of students, employees and
visitors to help sustain their operations.
Construction costs for the last fiscal year provided $85 million to local
vendors. Since 1998, the University has devoted $480 million to construction
projects at the Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Virginia campuses.
The building program has had a significant impact (on the economy),
said Don Boselovic, associate vice president for budget. If you
look at what we were building 10 years ago versus what we have built in
the last two or three years, thats a significant difference.
Since 2001 GW opened or broke ground on the Media and Public Affairs Building,
the Health and Wellness Center, 1957 E St., the School of Business
Duques Hall, Law School renovations, residence halls, projects at the
Mount Vernon Campus and improvements at the former PSINET Building in
Sawaya cited the construction of the Ivory Tower residence hall as one
example of a longer process of economic benefits for the region.
Theres the work before hand, with the work of the architects
and engineers, Sawaya explained. There are the benefits of
the actual construction in terms of prime contractors and employees on
site. There are the supplier benefits, construction being something that
is inescapably local. And with the opening of Ivory Tower, there are the
additional jobs generated to maintain the residence, as well as the retail
that will be in place, that will be enduring and open to the community.
GWs contributions to the area economy have increased since 1998.
Adjusted for inflation, the spinoff of the Medical Faculty Associates
and the closure of the GW Health Plan, Boselovic said the Universitys
overall expenditures increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent over the
past five years, while salaries and wages increased at an annual rate
of 3.9 percent.
Beyond the numbers of dollars spent, Sawaya said the educational infrastructure
aids DC and the region in two ways through schools and institutes
providing knowledge and services, and through graduates who remain in
The institution is a way of bringing together diverse intellectual
capital that does generate, in its due course, economic benefit to the
District of Columbia, Sawaya said. Thats something that
is well recognized across the country that universities are sources
of economic vitality. The fact that we are in the District of Columbia
may mute that recognition, given that it is the capital of the country.
This economic vitality, in many ways, stems from alumni who work in DC,
Maryland and Virginia after graduating from GW. According to the Office
of Alumni Programs, about 40 percent of graduates live in the metropolitan
(Alumni) are knowledge workers by definition, Sawaya said.
This is a knowledge-based town, in an increasingly knowledge-based
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