Report: U.C. Merced is helping Valley economy

MERCED, Calif.

The report said the university has contributed nearly $650-million to the Valley's economy, and more than $1-billion dollars statewide, since the campus began initial operations in 2000. Many valley companies are cashing in on the opportunities the university offers.

Stitching and printing the U.C. Merced logo on shirts, hats, and plenty of other items has helped keep one Merced company from closing. "We don't know if we'd really be in business if it weren't for them during the recession times," said Image Masters Account Manager Adam Saxon.

Image Masters is one of several businesses that's benefited from the growing university. A new report shows U.C. Merced has purchased $122-million in goods and services from local suppliers from July of 2000 through June of this year. It's also awarded $109-million in construction contracts.

U.C. Merced spokesperson Patti Waid said, "Construction is something that's been very big at the university, and it will continue to be. We have four other major projects in the planning phase. And really for the next 20 to 30 years, construction will always be happening at U.C. Merced."

Waid said the university has also paid more than $417-million in local wages and compensation. "I think about how the money I spend from my paycheck goes back into the economy, it's great to think about 80 percent of U.C. Merced's employees are based in Merced County, and they're doing the exact same thing."

The university's five-thousand students are also making an impact. Each of them spends an average of $4,000 a year in the community.

"I like to see the progress and it makes me proud as a U.C. student," said U.C. Merced student Robert Young.

Adam Saxon says his company could even expand as the area around the campus continues to develop.

"We look forward to even potentially opening up another business in that community and really growing with U.C. Merced."

U.C. Merced points out a large part of its contributions depend on state funding. The university can only continue to add new buildings and hire construction crews if the money is available.

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