Sacramento State community partnerships power local, state economies as students benefit from experiences

State Hornet Staff

With annual spending exceeding $607 million annually, Sacramento State remains a major contributor to local and state revenue, with an impact of $1 billion on California’s economy.

“Sac State has a tremendous reputation as well as presence in the community,” said Sanjay Varshney, dean of the College of Business Administration.  “They are many partnerships, sponsorships (and) sources of donor contribution. All kinds of monetary gain Sac State has because of its ability to capitalize on its reputation of capital.”

Varshney serves as the chief economist for the Sacramento Business Review, a bi-annual magazine that analyzes and forecasts the region’s economy and world capital markets.

For 2014, the publication predicts leisure, retail, healthcare, education and manufacturing to grow significantly, and accounted for 40 percent of all payroll jobs added in 2013.

Robert Dugan, interim director of Governmental and Civic Affairs, said Sac State is valued by the local community and Sacramento City Council because of its youth, as they drive Sacramento’s goods and services.

“Our students are the future of the business economy of the region,” Dugan said. “When our students come out the other end with degrees, they become the management of the public and private sector of the region. Folks know that.”

With factors including its location, clientele, student demographics and profile of incoming and graduate students, Varshney said Sac State provides one of the three pillars for economic success.

The operation of Sac State makes a huge contribution to the local economy, as thousands of employees, including students, take home a paycheck and spend it on goods. The trickle-down creates indirect and induced effects, as sales benefit other employers and companies.

Out of the three pillars of economic success – intellectual capital, entrepreneur risk-taking and financial capital – Varshney said Sacramento benefits the most from the experiences of students. The region relies heavily on Sac State graduates, with 78,935 alumni living in Sacramento in 2013 and working in various sectors, including public, private and government.

“We are the major university in the region here,” Varshney said. “We do business with everyone in the region. The local banks love us. The local technology companies love us. We are a huge value asset to the region because we are the educational partner for them.”

A recent partnership formed between the city and Sac State’s Criminal Justice Center allowed students to research historic crime patterns downtown, where a new arena for the Sacramento Kings is scheduled to be built.

Other partnerships, such an Sacramento Municipal Utility District, unites students with research opportunities to make them more employable once they graduate, Dugan said.

“We’re connected to all the public health departments of all the counties in the region,” Dugan said. “We’ve got active, robust internships as well as applied research going on every day.”

In 2008, Sac State signed a memorandum of understanding with Sacramento City Council, which created discussions for opportunities and collaboration and facilitated research opportunities.

“I think Sac State is one of the most important institutions in our region,” said Steve Cohn, District 3 Sacramento City Councilmember. “We have a great relationship between the city and Sacramento State. There are more Sacramento alumni working and raising families than any other college. It’s a tremendous impact on our region.”

Because of its contributions, Dugan said the campus is not viewed as a commuter school, despite what students may think. While Dugan’s job is to receive value for everything the university provides, he recognized most students are on the journey to degree completion.

“They may not stop long enough to see how much external value that is being created,” Dugan said. “But that’s just the nature of pursuing a degree. That was certainly the case when I was a student.”

Sac State alumni earn approximately $2.9 billion annually, and the school’s total economic impact sustains nearly 9,000 jobs in California. As a result, Varshney said the gross state product of Sacramento is larger than half the states in the U.S.