BU infuses regional economy with nearly $86 million

For immediate release: Sept. 15, 2009

BLOOMSBURG — With roughly $85.8 million funneled back into the region over the past two years, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is doing its part to spark the struggling economy by using local contractors for construction projects and local vendors for university supplies and services.

BU's recent economic impact has been boosted by a series of on-campus renovation and construction projects, most visibly on the upper campus where $45.2 million worth of construction has been done. Another $25.7 million has been invested in lower campus projects. In total, nearly $71 million alone has been infused into the region through BU construction projects since June 2008.

Locally, BU injected $7.4 million into Columbia County with notable contracts with Bloomsburg businesses Howard Organization Inc., for $3.3 million, and Mariano Construction Co., for $1.7 million, to serve as electrical contractors on separate renovation and building projects. Additionally, BU had local service contracts with Evans Disposal for $252,000 to handle campus garbage collection and Larry's Lumber & Supply Inc. for $53,600 to cover various supply needs across campus. Those are just a few examples of Columbia County contractors BU has utilized over the past two years.

The recent economic stimulus extended into neighboring counties through numerous service and purchasing contracts, including $150,000 to a Northumberland business for two-way radio communications and on-campus call box system. Additionally, BU recently contracted a Montoursville company for $2.3 million for new furniture in the residence halls and upper campus apartments, as well as invested $364,500 to a Williamsport business for new office furniture and $111,500 to a Williamsport company for campus maintenance supplies.

In total, more than $15 million has been spent over the past two years on service and purchasing contracts involving businesses from each of the six neighboring counties.

"The real impact comes from the 8,000 or so students we get each year, many of whom are bringing in out-of-state money from New Jersey," said Robert Hakim, BU's director of purchasing and operations. "Essentially, it's money and spending coming into the area that wouldn’t be coming if we weren’t here."

All but three of the 40 contractors working the various building projects have come from within a 100-mile radius of Bloomsburg, including four from Bloomsburg itself and 19 from neighboring counties.

"We're fortunate that many of the projects are being done by nearby contractors," said Eric Milner, BU's assistant vice president for administration, adding the university is bound by state law to competitively bid projects and can't guarantee the contracts stay local. "It's a great stimulus for the local economy and surrounding area. It's money that wouldn't normally be in the area."

Contractors for upper campus projects, which include the new Jessica S. Kozloff Apartments and renovation of the Nelson Field House, have come from Berks, Bucks, Columbia, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Northumberland and Union counties. On the lower campus, where renovation continues to the Haas Center for the Arts, Hartline, Bakeless and Sutliff halls, contractors have arrived from the same multi-county region with the addition of Blair, Carbon, Centre, Cumberland, Lancaster, Montgomery and Perry counties.

"The more money that comes into the local economy, the better we are as a region," Milner said. "These projects are not only improving the efficiency of our buildings but are occurring at a time when we really need something to fuel the economy."

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.