New report details VCU’s economic and cultural impact
By Mike Porter
Virginia Commonwealth University generates nearly $6 billion in economic activity and supports 63,000 jobs in Virginia, according to a new report by the Wilder School’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis that examines VCU’s economic and cultural impact.
The report, titled “VCU’s Impact on the Region: Talent, Innovation, Collaboration,” also found VCU’s economic impact within the city of Richmond is $1.5 billion, including about 18,000 jobs. In the metropolitan area, the impact is $4 billion and 47,000 jobs. And each dollar VCU spends, including payroll, employee spending and student spending, expands the Richmond economy by $2, the regional economy by $3.70 and the state’s economy by $3.20.
The report, released by university and community leaders on Jan. 10, also examined the impact on human health and wellness. The top-ranked VCU Health System is a nearly $3 billion enterprise, with more than 11,000 employees, and each year there are 36,000 admissions, nearly 100,000 emergency department visits and more than 650,000 outpatient visits. VCU Medical Center is the region’s safety-net hospital and its only academic medical center.
John Accordino, Ph.D., the Wilder School’s interim dean and director of CURA, said the numbers tell just part of the story of VCU’s impact.
“To really understand VCU’s impact on the community, you need to look beyond the numbers as well, to look at the significance and the meaning of what VCU is doing,” Accordino said. “So, to get at this, we looked at a variety of types of information and essentially the kinds of impacts broken down into talent and research, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, VCU’s role as a regional steward and VCU’s impact on the local culture.”
Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health, said the report’s findings will help VCU address some of the complex issues faced by the community.
“We learned a lot from this report about what VCU has been, and what we should become,” Rao said. “Our focus will be the people behind these numbers — the people of Richmond — and how we can continue to use our expertise, talents and resources to help solve some of the most challenging issues our city faces, including K-12 education, health disparities, housing and others. We have already begun work on these complex issues, and this report is a call to action to forge ahead in helping achieve what’s difficult."
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney said the strong relationship between the city and the university is beneficial to both partners.
“The impact of VCU upon the city of Richmond cannot be overstated,” Stoney said. “Its artistic, cultural, academic and economic contributions through its university and health system have helped make us the destination city we are today, and will play a huge role in our future success going forward.”
Barry Matherly, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, cited VCU’s role in engaging with the community as critical to the region’s success.
“I think the big connection here is that VCU actually wants to be a part of the community and engages in a very thoughtful way to make sure that the community is growing with the university,” Matherly said. “And I think the ability to focus, not only just on inside of the walls of the university, but to focus externally around it, makes it that powerful engine that’s helping drive this economy.”
The full report and a video about the report’s findings are available at president.vcu.edu/impact/.