Columbia University Contributes to New York City’s Economic Growth

As Columbia University opens the first buildings on its new Manhattanville campus, universities have become an increasingly vital source of both middle-income jobs for New Yorkers and new scientific discoveries that power the city’s growing innovation economy. Together with its peers, Columbia contributes to New York’s economy not only by attracting talented students and scholars, but also by creating a stable base of local jobs and investing in cutting-edge research and development that drives high-tech entrepreneurship.

“Columbia embraces its role as an engine of economic opportunity in our home city,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “Our pioneering researchers are the source of the pathbreaking ideas that are essential to New York’s continued leadership as a global capital, and our commitment to local development ensures we can be a growing source of stable, middle-income jobs and economic opportunity in our community.”

Columbia University campus. Photo by Eileen Barroso

Construction of the Manhattanville campus will result in an investment of approximately $6.3 billion (in 2006 dollars) in local construction and an average of more than 1,500 construction-related jobs a year during the campus construction. In addition to its accomplished faculty of 4,000, the university directly employs more than 16,600 people in non-faculty jobs, some two-thirds of whom live in the five boroughs and earn more than $1.2 billion a year in wages. Columbia’s commitment to minority, women and local workers and businesses has ensured that this investment in economic growth benefits our diverse New York community, including $578 million paid to minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL)  firms for construction-related work over the past five years.

Related: Watch President Bollinger talk about Columbia’s economic impact on New York with NY1’s Errol Louis.

At the same time, university researchers are providing the discoveries powering a wide-range of new local businesses supported by the university through its nationally recognized Columbia Technology Ventures and through Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design which supports Columbia’s entrepreneurs in New York through initiatives such as a Startup Lab in Lower Manhattan. In 2016, Columbia’s funded research exceeded $737 million and has been an ongoing source of pioneering innovations and local start-up companies in key areas such as biomedical engineering, novel sensors, new therapeutics, and artificial intelligence.

“For many years Columbia University has been recognized as one of the top employers in New York City, and its role in the burgeoning innovation economy is significant, “ said Orin Herskowitz, senior vice president of Intellectual Property and Technology. “Especially in the last ten years, Columbia, along with its local peers, has been a vital force in establishing a start-up ecosystem in the city, which in turn has contributed to the emergence of New York as formidable competitor to the San Francisco Bay area and the Boston corridor.“

Most recently Columbia recruited Jeannette Wing, formerly the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, to lead Columbia’s pioneering Data Science Institute. A renowned expert in cybersecurity and data privacy and the longtime computer science chair at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Wing has first-hand experience in Pittsburgh’s high tech renaissance..

“As both a Mayor and a faculty member in public policy since leaving office, I have seen the critical role that universities like Columbia play in New York’s economic life; not only by educating future generations who matriculate and may choose to stay to make our city thrive, the university also provides thousands of indispensable jobs for today’s New Yorkers,” said former Mayor and longtime professor of public policy at Columbia|SIPA David Dinkins. “Columbia’s development of the new Manhattanville campus, has expanded its commitment by ensuring that our local community shares in the benefits of an open campus plan and that the economic opportunities that come from building it extend to all corners of our magnificent city.”

More information about Columbia’s role in supporting New York’s economy see: Highlights include:

Providing thousands of jobs to New Yorkers

  • Of the more than 16,600 people employed in non-faculty roles at Columbia, two-thirds live within the five boroughs. They represent a wide range of middle-income employment, from support staff and human-resource professionals to skilled trades and lab technicians.
  • Columbia paid nearly $1.2 billion in wages and salaries to New York City residents in 2016.
  • Over the past five years, the Manhattanville campus expansion has generated an average of more than 1,500 local construction jobs per year, and construction will continue for many years to come.
  • On its new Manhattanville campus Columbia expects to directly employ an estimated 2,500 people over the next ten years, including faculty. More people will be employed in ongoing construction and as employees at commercial spaces located on the new campus.
  • When the campus is completed and fully occupied, an estimated 6,400 people earning approximately $600 million will be employed there by the University and our tenants, with some of Columbia’s faculty and staff coming from existing offices.

Supporting minority-, women- and locally-owned businesses

  • Over the past five years Columbia has paid minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL) businesses more than $578 million for construction projects on the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses.
  • From 2008 to 2016, in Manhattanville alone the MWL commitment represents 34 percent of Columbia’s overall non-specialty construction spending and 50 percent of all workforce hours.
  • Since 2009, the Columbia University-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has worked directly with 1,878 businesses, helping them to invest over $20 million in the area’s economy, supporting 1,404 jobs.

Investing in West Harlem for the long-term

Working with the West Harlem Development Corporation, Empire State Development and New York City, Columbia has committed $150 million in new benefits and amenities to the local West Harlem community. This includes:

  • $76 million directed by the local community itself through the West Harlem Development Corp. to support various projects with grants and to fund other activities in areas such as housing, employment and economic development, education, transportation, arts and culture, and community facilities.
  • $20 million dedicated to the Harlem Community Development Corp., an Empire State Development Corp. subsidiary that plans and facilitates community revitalization.
  • $20 million for an affordable housing fund and $4 million to support legal assistance for housing issues for West Harlem residents.
  • An $18 million commitment for development and maintenance of West Harlem Piers Park.

Driving New York City’s Innovation Economy

  • More than 145 startup companies have emerged from technology based on research at Columbia since 2006. Columbia startups in and around NYC include companies such as Schrodinger, Kallyope, Applied Therapeutics, Vidrovr, Epibone, Lumiode, and Sapience.
  • The 5,100–square foot Columbia Startup Lab co-working space in lower Manhattan is currently home to more than 70 entrepreneurs.
  • Over the past ten years, Columbia research labs have produced more than 3,300 inventions; it has also received more than 750 new U.S. patents, and there have been more than 700 licenses and options to industry or startups based on technology developed at the university.
  • Columbia has partnered with city and state entities, as well as with our local peer institutions, to launch initiatives focused on increasing the number of local technology startups, including the NYC Media Lab, an initiative of the NYC Economic Development Corp., and PowerBridgeNY, established by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, among others.

Media Contact: Victoria Benitez or 212-854-6732

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