Princeton University is committed to ensuring the success of the greater Princeton community, and contributes greatly to the overall economic growth of New Jersey and quality of life in the region. The University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs serves to manage important University/community relationships and to collaborate with regional and local governments and public and private organizations on University issues.
Regional Economic Impact
With approximately 5,750 benefits-eligible employees, Princeton University is one of the largest private employers in central New Jersey. The institution’s overall regional economic impact amounts to approximately $2 billion. This is based on the University’s total expenditures in 2009–10 of approximately $1.38 billion (almost $1.3 billion plus $80 million for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, or PPPL), along with the expenditures of more than 780,000 people attending events throughout the year on campus, and the expenditures of the thousands of students and employees. Included in these statistics is the $25 million economic impact of the nationally acclaimed McCarter Theatre Center, whose facility is owned by the University (McCarter programming drew approximately 175,000 visitors last year, with an operating budget of $11.5 million and approximately 140 full- and part-time employees).
The University strives to purchase goods and services in New Jersey as much as possible. Approximately 68 percent of the $248.3 million spent on capital construction and major maintenance in 2009–10 went to New Jersey firms, and approximately 25 percent of the $200.9 million spent on non-construction purchases in 2009–10 went to New Jersey firms.
The University continues to play an important role in attracting prestigious international corporations to central New Jersey, particularly to the University-developed Forrestal Center properties in Plainsboro and South Brunswick. These lands feature premier office, retail, and residential space as well as academic space, with an approximate assessed valuation of $1.4 billion in Plainsboro and South Brunswick.
In addition, the University also has helped spur the high-tech alley on U.S. Route 1 by helping to create hundreds of new jobs through research and development. For example, in the past decade the University’s multidisciplinary research centers, including the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), have formed research and development partnerships with approximately 300 New Jersey-based companies (including nearly 100 start-ups) and entrepreneurs in a wide array of fields, ranging from environmental monitoring to medicine, telecommunications, and nanotechnology.
Princeton is committing substantial resources to further advance its engineering research programs, including investments in specialized laboratory spaces that are open for use by industrial partners. The strategic plan for the School of Engineering and Applied Science places a high priority on engagement and collaboration with industry, including the venture and investment communities.
According to the Moody’s Investor Service Municipal Credit Research report, the University’s positive effect on the local economy and the stability of its presence is the dominant factor in the Triple A bond rating for Princeton Township and the Princeton Regional School District, and the Double A bond rating for Princeton Borough.
By the Numbers
- Total expenditures: $1.38 billion
- Total payroll: $487.8 million
- New Jersey state income taxes paid by University employees: $18.2 million
- Construction spending and major maintenance: $248.3 million; in the past decade, spending has been more than $2 billion
- Campus visitors estimated total: 780,000, including top attractions: athletic events, 250,000; the McCarter Theatre Center, 175,000; the University Art Museum, 134,000; other concerts and performances, 70,000; Orange Key tours, 45,000; summer events (non-alumni-related conferences, camps, and academic programs), 35,000; alumni-related events, 26,000 (includes Reunions Weekend and Alumni Day); Firestone Library, 21,000; Cotsen Children’s Library, 11,400; Commencement, 10,000; and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), 7,000.
Property Tax Payments. The University owns approximately 4,000 acres for commercial and academic use in several central New Jersey municipalities, with significant holdings in Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, West Windsor Township, Plainsboro Township, and South Brunswick Township. Most of the academic properties are located in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, which serve as hosts to the University’s main campus (500 acres). The following chart includes property and sewer tax paid:
The University is the largest taxpayer in both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. In total, the University pays 12.3 percent of property tax receipts in the two communities (4.7 percent in the township and 7.6 percent in the borough, more than six times greater than the next largest taxpayer in the township and more than five times greater than the next largest taxpayer in the borough).
Total local taxes paid: approximately $11.2 million
Voluntary Property Tax Payments on University Housing. The total tax payment in both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township included millions of dollars in taxes on housing for faculty, staff (including the official residence of the University president), and graduate students. This is housing that might qualify for tax exemption under New Jersey state law. Taxes were paid in full on these residential properties voluntarily in order to ensure that the public school system would be compensated for school-aged children who might have dwelt in University-owned housing.
Keeping Buildings on the Tax Rolls. The University’s policy is to remove a building from the tax rolls only when 100 percent of the building is to be used for educational purposes. This is a voluntary gesture, as state law exempts colleges and universities from paying taxes on any portion of a building used for academic purposes. In addition, for buildings not located in Princeton Borough, when a University property is removed from the tax rolls, the University will phase out, or pay down, the tax payments over a 10-year period.
Payments for Infrastructure and Publicly Used Facilities. During the past decade, more than $2.5 million has been spent on crosswalk and road improvements for the benefit of the public. The University annually spends hundreds of thousands of dollars for the maintenance of University-owned but publicly used facilities such as the McCarter Theatre Center, an internationally renowned, Tony-award-winning regional arts facility; the Princeton Garden Theatre, the borough’s only movie theater; and the upkeep of the Princeton train station, home to the “Dinky” shuttle train.
Voluntary Cash Contributions to Municipality. Each year the University makes voluntary cash contributions to Princeton Borough. Beginning in 2006, the total calendar-year non-tax voluntary contribution to the borough was $1 million. This contribution amount increases each year by the percentage increase in the approved borough tax rate, and increases each time a new tax-exempt building is constructed and occupied in the borough. In FY ’10, the voluntary payment to Princeton Borough was $1.18 million.
Affordable Housing Contributions. The University is proud to partner with both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township to provide significant funding for the construction and renovation of affordable housing in the community. Since 2000, the University’s contributions to affordable housing have totaled more than $3.5 million.
Support and Special Gifts. The University has contributed more than $10 million in special gifts to municipalities and community organizations over the past decade.