Report: Drew Has $5M Impact on Madison Economy

Drew University outlines ways it brings money to borough businesses and government.

One of the first things incoming freshmen do after moving in to Drew University is take a tour of Madison's downtown with the help of members of the business community.

The , this year scheduled for Aug. 23, is a chance for students to get acquainted with merchants in the borough, where many of the students will be living, studying and shopping for the next four years.

"They're a very important part of our town economically and outstanding members of the community," said John Morris, first vice president of the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

A recent report put together by Drew University puts numbers to just how big the university's impact on the local economy is, estimating it at $5 million a year.

For example, if every student living on campus spends $15 a week with Madison merchants, that's $675,000 going to Madison businesses.

Among the findings for 2011:

  • Drew paid $381,498 in property taxes.
  • Drew paid Madison over $2.9 million for utilities and other services.
  • A total of $161,285 was paid to the borough in 2011 for things like permits, fees, registrations and police overtime.
  • Drew spent $698,551 directly purchasing goods and services from Madison based businesses.
  • There are 102 Madison residents employed by Drew as faculty, staff or administrators. At an estimated average salary of $67,957, they're paid a combined $6,931,614 a year, which flows into the local economy. Twenty of the employees live in private homes estimated to have paid about $176,000 in property taxes.
  • Of the approximately 2,200 students attending Drew, 1,407 live on campus—almost 9 percent of the total population of Madison. "If each student spends conservatively $15 per week with Madison merchants (pizza, bagels, restaurants, merchants, etc.) it would add up to $675,000 per year in money infused into the local economy during the academic year. In addition, we estimate that faculty and staff—another 530 persons—spend a very conservative average of $25 per week for a total of $580,400 per year."
  • Don't forget moms and dads. "We estimate that visiting parents and friends spend another $160,000. That is based on an assumption that roughly half of our undergraduate populations parents visit at least once during an academic semester and they will eat at least one meal in Madison."

The report, which is attached to this post as a PDF, also says Drew employees have volunteered numerous hours with Madison committees and service organizations, including the Planning Board, Rotary, Downtown Development Commission, Parks Advisory Committee, and the Shade Tree Management Board. Each May Day, more than 20 Drew students and staff spend the day sprucing up Madison.

"In addition, the faculty has offered numerous hours of expertise to these and other organizations," the report says. "For example, Dr. Sara Webb volunteered her time to write the vegetation chapter of Madison’s Environmental Resources Inventory as well as an evaluation and report of the natural resources acquired with the Madison Recreation Complex property."

Drew also has been a "significant" financial sponsor of borough events and initiatives, such as Taste of Madison, the Madison Farmers Market, the Green Fair and the Madison Avenue Direct shuttle connecting local colleges and Madison's downtown. The university contributes $10,000 a year to the Madison First Aid Squad to recognize and support the "vital volunteer organization," the report says.

Drew said its relationship with Madison is mutually beneficial.

"For its part, Drew recognizes that the suburban charm of Madison, its prosperous downtown and business district, excellent schools and proximately to mass transit and New York City all contribute to making Drew a desirable place to work and study," the report says. "In return, Drew significantly enhances the quality of life for residents of the borough. Each year, many take advantage of cultural enrichment and educational opportunities offered by the university—they hear first hand from world leaders and opinion shapers through the Forum Lecture Series, enjoy concerts by world renowned musicians in the school’s state of the art concert hall, attend lectures by university faculty on campus or at the Madison Library, enroll in continued education courses, and sign their sons and daughters up in one of the many summer sports camps on campus offered by Drew’s coaches and athletic staff."

Downtown Development Commission Chair Eric Range said Drew is an "important economic driver for Madison."

"Madison is very lucky to have large institutions like Drew University," Range said. "Beyond the fees and taxes paid by Drew, for years the Downtown Development Commission has recognized the economic importance of engaging thousands of consumers just outside our downtown. Students and employees who live in Madison are nearly 10% of the population making the University an important economic driver for Madison."

Michael Kopas, executive director of Facilities and Special Projects for Drew, said the nearly $700,000 spent by the university on goods and services from Madison business includes the majority of the university's tree care, hardware, plumbing, carpentry and office supplies.

"Drew has had great relationships with a number of local vendors over the years and is always looking to do more," Kopas said. "When you deal with local businesses, you get that personal connection and sense of community that you may not get elsewhere."

Madison Cyclist July 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Makes sense that Drew has a big impact. What do they pay property taxes on? Is it the residential units they own on Loantaka?
Jake Remaly (Editor) July 19, 2012 at 01:51 PM
It looks like a lot of it is for the properties on Loantaka Way. The report says "Drew paid property taxes on nine unimproved lots, 14 buildings and 28 condominium units totaling $381,498 yearly. Although having a tax exempt status, this makes Drew one of the top tax payers in the borough."
Anonymous July 19, 2012 at 01:52 PM
The "impact" is nice, but if all of Drew was ratable property, the land and improvements would provide millions in property taxes (and an equal amount of property tax relief for all tax payers). Drew also neglects to mention in its "report" what cost impact it's students and faculty (and their families) have on Madison - Higher crime rate, massive ambulance and EMT responses to the campus, kids in the Madison school system, etc.
Steve Wells July 19, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Yet again, Drew insults our intelligence. This is pure self-aggrandizing posturing on their part, based on specious logic. How about their historically disproportionate demand on Madison's emergency services, which Borough Council has been too timid to request some compensation for? And how often are Drew students seen spending money downtown? (Madison HARDLY has the feel of a college town.) Ordering pizzas -- and maybe having prescriptions filled -- is about the only business Drew students transact with Madison merchants with any regularity (at least legally). And to calculate an entity's worth to a municipality by citing that some of its employees live in that municipality and pay property tax on personal residences is a laughable statistic unless one believes that no one else would be owning those residences if the entity didn't exist. But the number that ISN'T cited is the one that most needs explaining: How does Drew, on ANY logic plane, justify having a higher tuition than Princeton, which I'm certain contributes far more to its true "college town" than Drew does to Madison.
frank licliter July 19, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Drew is a joke and robs the integrity of this town to support its overpaid staff and useless facilities!
Penny Carver July 19, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Dear Mr. Wells, why don't you like Drew U? You are overly critical about any issue concerning this university and I don't understand it. I received my BA from Drew and I loved the experience that I had there. It's a fine institution and we are lucky to have it here in Madison.
Steve Wells July 20, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Penny, when I taught adjunct courses at Drew for most of the 1980s, I too loved the experience there. Which is why it has been sad for me to see it become the mis- and micro-managed place it is today. Weisbuch resigned so he devote more time to his writing??? How about Weisbuch resigned because he had been losing most of his upper administration, and the place was in chaos. I am, however, impressed by the trustees' (why are there more than 40 of them?) appointment of Vivian Bull as interim...assuming they give her latitude to function. If I seem overly critical of Drew it's because nothing is gained by pretending all is rosy there and buying into its hubris, if it is ever to return to the place it once was. Happy to talk to you in more detail if you want.
Rachel Marie Schachter July 20, 2012 at 06:23 PM
As a current student, I completely understand your frustration with Drew as an institution, and I'm very excited about Vivian Bull having been appointed as interim. I do have to admit that I don't appreciate when the frustration is taken out on students. I'm sure you're familiar with the stereotype that college students don't have much money. When I have any money to spend, I make a point to support small businesses, including those in Madison, but I don't often have money to spare. The only places in Madison I feel I can afford to eat with any regularity are the Nautilus and Romanelli's. McCool's is certainly a favorite in my circle of friends, but I'm simply not able to spend money on things like ice cream regularly. Most of my Drew tuition is being paid through scholarships and a whole lot of loans, so it's not as though I have money to feed into Madison. These feelings also perpetuate themselves. If people in Madison feel that way about Drew students, it's going to show and Drew students aren't going to feel welcome. Granted, I also wish there were a lot fewer emergency vehicles on campus, but I'm not a part of the college culture that requires them.
Steve Wells July 20, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Rachel, you sound like the type of student that at one time was the norm for Drew, and that they should put the highest value on attracting. As long as you keep your priorities where they seem to be focused now, you'll do just fine, both now and after you graduate. Several years ago I submitted a proposal to Bob Weisbuch and then-mayor Kerkeslager about a long-range plan that would convert the western end of downtown into a college zone called "The Curve" that would focus on places that would appeal to students and make them feel welcome. (The proposal was met with great enthusiasm...for five minues, as most things at Drew are, if they are focused on at all.) You hit the proverbial nail on the head when you state the establishments you like to frequent when you can afford to. Even if you had unlimited funds, there isn't much downtown that would appeal to college students; it's an upscale family community by definition. No one I know of tries to make Drew students feel uncomfortable when they're downtown, but it isn't surprising that they feel that way regardless. It's a social disconnect that needs to be acknowledged if it's to improve.
Steve T. July 20, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Remember Sweet Dreams on Lincoln Place? I do - and there are at least 116 people on Facebook that remember it fondly as well. it was awesome. Great photos of what was... http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.346439150702.160591.304863010702&type=1
ACK July 20, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Rachel, great post. Everyone needs to remember that with town/gown relations, it needs to be a two way street. For every frustration Madison has with Drew, Drew has one with Madison. I work at Drew and live in Madison and see it from boith angles. The most important thing we all can do is to keep the dialogue open. I can honestly say that communication between the two has been the best it has been in the 10 years I have been working at Drew. The negativity comes from a vocal minority.
my2cents July 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I would imagine that when parents come to visit their children at school, taking them out to dinner is a common jesture. I would guess they eat in downtown Madison and Mom and Dad are paying the tab. I think Rachel's post is common among the students, but lets not forget that the parents may be spending money when they come into town.
Anonymous July 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Doubt that after paying over $50K for tuition, room and board that many parents are taking their children out except the weekend they graduate and the parents can celebrate retiring another mortgage payment.
my2cents July 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Maybe..Maybe not, but some are. Still a wonderful town to be in attending college.


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