Penn grows the region

A new study of Penn’s impact on the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania economy shows that the University is one of the region’s — and the state’s — main engines of growth.

The study, based on fiscal year 1997 data and conducted for Penn by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), shows that Penn stimulates more than $4 billion in direct and indirect economic activity in the state, including $1.5 billion in Philadelphia alone. This activity supports the equivalent of more than 46,000 full-time jobs in the region, including more than 19,000 at Penn. With 28,169 full- and part-time employees in fiscal year 1998, the University is the region’s largest private employer.

Some figures in the report illustrate just how important Penn is to the local economy:

• Total employment in the city of Philadelphia fell 13 percent from 1990 to 1997, while employment at Penn facilities in the city rose 3 percent.

• Penn’s average annual growth rate over the same seven-year period was 9 percent, five times the annual growth rate for the region as a whole.

• Penn’s efforts have helped 219 new local companies get off the ground, including 38 firms using Penn faculty research.

Equally important, said Jack Shannon, managing director for economic development in the Office of the Executive Vice President, are Penn’s efforts to keep those economic benefits in the neighborhood.

The PwC study shows that Penn’s purchases from West Philadelphia businesses increased more than fourfold (from $10 million to $42 million) from 1995 to 1998, and Shannon said, “Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition figures on Sansom Common show that our efforts have had substantial positive benefits for the community.” For example, 168 residents of West and Southwest Philadelphia worked on the project, and nearly 45 percent of the project’s contract dollars went to minority- or woman-owned businesses.

Shannon also noted that area leaders have become more aware of the need to keep more highly educated workers in the state and the region, and that Penn is helping efforts to make the region more appealing to college graduates.

Finally, he said, “The report confirms for all of us the very important fact that the fortunes and futures of the University, the city and the commonwealth are inextricably tied together for both good and bad.”


Originally published on December 2, 1999