UofL economic impact surpasses $1.8 billion

The University of Louisville serves the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an economic development engine. As a premier metropolitan research institution, the university not only builds upon and shares knowledge, but it enhances opportunities for residents. Based upon regional input-output multipliers from the U.S. Department of Commerce, UofL had a direct impact of $881.9 million and indirect impact of $954.4 million during the 2013–14 academic year. Combined, UofL’s contributions to state economic production totaled nearly $1.84 billion.

Within this same timeframe UofL employed 6,700 faculty and staff members, while its direct and indirect effects accounted for another 9,100 jobs. A key component of UofL’s economic boost, university-related construction activity totaled $95 million and resulted in 1,750 of these additional jobs for the year. In addition to higher education, other industries that benefited from the presence of the university include manufacturing, retail trade, professional services, scientific services and technical services.

Growth continues on J.D. Nichols campus

The J.D. Nichols Campus for Innovation and Entrepreneurship continues to grow with the arrival of new tenants and plans for additional buildings.

The Nucleus, the first new office building developed on the campus by the University of Louisville Foundation, welcomed its anchor tenant, Atria Senior Living, in December. The Louisville-based provider of upscale housing for the elderly moved 400 of its employees to the building.

Another recent addition to The Nucleus, local nonprofit ElderServe Inc., provides assistance to the frail elderly. It also moved to the building in December after completing a $500,000 fund-raising campaign that allowed it to relocate from the Dosker Manor public housing complex on Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

Through its Nucleus: Kentucky’s Innovation Center affiliate, the foundation is overseeing construction of a six-story, 825-space parking garage on the campus at Jefferson and Preston streets. Plans call for it to be completed by the end of the year.

The foundation also is preparing to build a second office building, which will have eight to 10 floors. It will be built east of The Nucleus, which is located at 300 E. Market St.

Extreme makeover

Jackhammers, nail guns and concrete mixers have been a daily sight around the Belknap campus this spring, and they won’t be going away any time soon. Roadwork that will transform the east side of campus, two new privately-owned student housing complexes and infrastructure work on the new Belknap research park all factor into the ongoing transformation of UofL’s campus.

Travelers on Interstate 65 will notice a new entrance to the Belknap campus directly off the highway. Warnock St. will become a boulevard leading directly into campus, with a new visitor’s center to be built on the old soccer field across the street from a McDonald’s restaurant. The same high-traffic, high-pedestrian area along Floyd St. and the athletic fields is being rebuilt with wider sidewalks, a median, traffic roundabout, buried utility lines and other safety improvements.

All of that construction ties in with the $30 million project to provide vehicle access to the new, 39-acre Belknap Engineering and Applied Science Research Park located behind the J.B. Speed School of Engineering. Construction crews completed an access road and two ramps over railroad tracks, with work on water, sewer, gas and electric lines beginning this summer.

It took a few years, but UofL has secured state funding for a new $80 million academic building. Construction on the state-of-the-art center is expected to begin this year. A much-discussed renovation of the Swain Student Activities Center will also take shape this summer.

While the on-campus improvements are dramatic, so are the changes to areas adjacent to campus as new student housing continues to pop up. Two new privately-built and operated complexes will open before the fall semester begins. The Clubhouse is a 758-bed apartment community bounded by I-65, Eastern Parkway, Crittenden Dr. and Warnock St., while The Retreat is located on the western edge of campus behind Bettie Johnson Hall. The Retreat is a little different, featuring cottages instead of apartment buildings, and it has 656 beds. Residents of these two communities and other privately-built housing near UofL will enjoy amenities their college-going parents never dreamed of, including resort-style pools, sand volleyball courts, movie theaters, fitness centers, a golf simulator and a fire pit.

“UofL is a dynamic, rapidly changing, residential campus that many of our alumni may barely recognize,” said President James Ramsey. “We hope they’ll visit and see the positive transformation for themselves.”