2/19/2013 2:19:34 PM
GANNETT: Universities leading transition in upstate
ALBANY — The higher-education sector in New York has led all other industries in job growth over the last decade, and officials said colleges and universities are playing a primary role in the transition from a labor-based to a knowledge-based economy.
Nanotechnology, biomedical science, analytics and renewable energy development have pushed aside manufacturing and agriculture as burgeoning industries in New York, particularly upstate. As the state continues to struggle with population losses and its unemployment rate, which is higher than the national average, colleges are emerging as economic drivers.
The shift is clear in the labor statistics.
From 2000 to 2010, private higher education institutions in New York grew by 38 percent, or nearly 69,800 employees, while total private-sector jobs in the state decreased by 1.1 percent, or 134,600 workers. No other sector grew as much, according to a state Labor Department report.
The State University of New York, a public system, grew by nearly 20 percent, or by 14,304 employees, during the same period. There were 73,236 employees in 2000 and 87,540 in 2010. Enrollment increased 63 percent in that decade, from 289,495 to 471,184.
In manufacturing, the state lost a whopping 294,500 jobs from 2000 to 2010, a 39.1 percent drop.
“New York state, especially the Mid-Hudson region, was an integral part of the manufacturing economy – the economy that put warehouses all up and down the Hudson River, with the natural resources from iron all the way to timber, and personnel to be able to create and manufacture goods and then ship them efficiently,” said Geoff Brackett, executive vice president of Marist College in Poughkeepsie. “Those days are clearly over.”
Now, universities are partnering with existing corporations or creating new businesses to market products and services they develop, officials said. Research labs are “ecosystems” shared with companies as they work to pioneer technological advances.
“The link between higher education, the business community and particularly the state government is getting smarter and more sophisticated,” said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester, the city’s largest employer with more than 22,000 workers. “And it’s one which has been a priority for the governor.”