Recent and ongoing construction projects by West Virginia University and WVUHealthcare will have an economic impact of more than $1 billion, with nearly $700 million benefiting Monongalia County and surrounding areas, a study by the University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research concludes.

The review of 20 construction projects beginning in June 2011 with completion planned by November 2015 found that the total $742.9 million budget of those projects would create more than 7,100 jobs and $35 million in local and state tax revenue — almost 4,700 of the jobs and $23.3 million of the taxes them in and around Mon County.

“The dollars WVU and WVUHealthcare spend on these projects generate income for local businesses and their employees, which in turn gets spent at local grocery stores, local movie theaters, local restaurants, gas stations, retail shops, hotels, motels, housing and other businesses as well as gets deposited in local banks,” Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese said. “And it generates a variety of taxes, including income taxes, as well as property and business and occupation taxes for Morgantown, Star City, Granville, Westover and Monongalia County and their school districts.”

The projects range from $665,000 to expand a parking lot on the Evansdale Campus to $225 million for WVUHealthcare expansions, including Ruby Memorial Hospital. They also include three major public-private partnerships to improve student housing, new classroom space, a new student health center, various renovations as well as supporting infrastructure.

“In any study of this type, we have to make some assumptions about where the contractors are located and how the spending is distributed across the study area,” said Eric Bowen, the research associate who conducted the study. “But we feel comfortable that these results represent a fairly conservative measure of the economic impact of WVU’s construction projects in the Monongalia County region.”

The study concluded that the total economic impact would be $1.02 billion, including 7,143 jobs and $35.7 million in state and local tax revenue.

For Monongalia County and the surrounding areas, those numbers were $669.4 million, including 4,675 jobs and $23.3 million in taxes.

All the projects will help keep WVU successful in an ever-increasing competition for the best and brightest students, staff and faculty as well as conduct research and provide healthcare that benefits West Virginians, Weese said.

“It’s important to remember that WVU’s presence is a major factor in the Monongalia County and regional economies, contributing significantly to the overall prosperity we have experienced in recent years,” he said, noting that projects such as these are competitively bid and involve state, local and out-of-state contractors. Even the out-of-state contractors employ many local workers, such as electricians, carpenters, masons, designers, etc.

Weese said the WVU projects were all outlined in the University’s strategic plans and approved by the Board of Governors. They are being funded by the sale of bonds, the proceeds of which can only be used for these specific projects (and not salary increases or other purposes). WVUHealthcare projects will be financed by WVU Hospitals Inc., a member of the West Virginia United Health System. No state funds will be sought and no extraordinary rate increase is anticipated as a result of the construction.

In the University’s public-private residential projects in Sunnyside and Evansdale, Weese noted that the University is only purchasing the land, a small portion of the overall cost of the projects. That outlay – $14.6 million in Sunnyside and $14.7 in Evansdale – will quickly be recouped by rental income from the projects, and the University will eventually own both complexes, valued at more than $170 million, in their entirety. (Details are still being worked on the third residential project involving the former College Park apartments.)

“These projects demonstrate WVU’s investment in Morgantown and surrounding area, and a commitment to the continued financial health of the institution, which employs around 6,000 persons at the main campus, more than half of whom are classified staff,” said Staff Council Chair-elect Lisa Martin. “Even with the current budget cuts, it’s important that WVU continue to move forward with its strategic plan to ensure that staff, students and faculty are drawn to the University, and keep our recent momentum intact.

“These current investments are necessary to make any future improvements in pay and benefits possible.”

The projects included in the study, and their budgets, are:

  • Greenhouse, $8.95 million.
  • HSC animal facility, $22 million.
  • Water tower parking lot, $665,000.
  • Evansdale Infrastructure, $7.6 million.
  • Law school addition, $13.6 million.
  • College of Physical Activities and Sports Sciences/student health, $34.9 million
  • Advanced engineering research building, $40 million.
  • University Place, $70 million.
  • College Park, $46.8 million.
  • WVU Healthcare expansions, $225 million.
  • Evansdale Library renovations, $3.8 million.
  • New agricultural building, $93 million.
  • Art museum, $9.3 million.
  • Evansdale crossings, $31 million.
  • Baseball stadium, $13.6 million.
  • NRCCE renovation, $4.8 million.
  • University Park, $100 million.
  • Evansdale intersections, $3.6 million.
  • Creative Arts Center parking lot, $2.8 million.
  • Law school renovation, $11.6 million

In addition to the projects included in the study, WVU is also clearing land it acquired when it purchased what is now Vandalia Hall out of bankruptcy. The property located along and near Falling Run Road will eventually be used for construction to meet expanding academic needs.



CONTACT: University Relations/News

For study methodology:
Eric Bowen; WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.