VCU details $6 billion impact on state; cultural influence on region

Posted at 1:02 PM, Jan 11, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – A report researched and produced by Virginia Commonwealth University found the academic institution has generated nearly $6 billion in economic activity, supports 63,000 jobs in Virginia, and has a cultural impact on the region as well.

VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis examined VCU’s economic and cultural impact in a report titled “VCU’s Impact on the Region: Talent, Innovation, Collaboration.”

VCU’s economic impact within the city of Richmond was reported to be $1.5 billion and included about 18,000 jobs.

In the metropolitan area, the impact is $4 billion and 47,000 jobs.

For each dollar spent by VCU, 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 found.

VCU Health System,  a nearly $3 billion enterprise, has more than 11,000 employees, more than around 36,000 admissions annually, nearly 100,000 emergency department visits and more than 650,000 outpatient visits.

VCU officials said that the numbers are only a part of the university’s impact and that VCU has a role as a “regional steward” and influences culture. An excerpt of the report states that VCU is synergistically linked with the community and “integral part of the very soul of the community.”

The report also references the student body size, employees, and percentage of alumni who stay within the region.

“Thus, at any given moment, well over 10 percent of the population of the entire Richmond metropolitan area is comprised of former or current VCU students, faculty and staff. In the city of Richmond, this percentage is undoubtedly much higher. While they certainly do not all share the same political attitudes or tastes, their youthful, creative energy contributes in countless ways to shaping the identity of Richmond.”

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,” Rao concluded.

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



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